I imagine just about everybody has tried calamari that has been floured and fried with a side of marinara sauce — but what about a grilled calamari steak?
Some squid do get big enough to cut steaks out from the tubes of the calamari and recently I was able to get my hands on a few of them.
What I found was it is very important to either buy tenderized calamari steaks or tenderize them yourself with a Jaccard tenderizer. This a tool that has many sharp blades (usually has more than 20) that plunge into whatever is under it when you press down on it. It will plunge into your hand, too, so be careful.
Before I began to grill the calamari, I made sure the squid was dried off with a towel and that grill was smoking hot. To get good grill marks on anything is simple: Don’t look at what you’re trying to grill when you turn it; look at the handle of whatever you are using to pick up the meat from the grill. Turn that handle 45 degrees and set it back down, I think you will find that your grill marks will look like diamonds and should be symmetrical. Repeat the same steps on the other side of whatever you’re grilling.
If you’re trying to grill fish, don’t use tongs to turn the fish. Use a two-prong grill fork instead. Stick the prongs between the grill grates and under the fish. Try to lift it. If it doesn’t want to let go of the grill, then it’s not ready to be turned yet. Wait another minute and try it again. Sooner than later, it will release from the grill and then you can turn it 45 degrees.
I thought about what I would serve it with and decided that some mango salsa and curried coconut milk would be tasty, and a few potatoes wedges wouldn’t hurt either.
The sauce is easy. Just add some curry powder to the coconut milk and slowly reduce by half to get a sauce consistency. If you don’t have time to reduce coconut milk, you could look back at some of my past columns and find an aioli recipe and substitute curry powder in place of the citrus. That would work, and would keep longer in your fridge (about a month).
If I were to pair this with a wine, I would be thinking sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. The tropical flavors of those sauvignon blancs from the northern tip of the southern island are wonderful, with bright acidity. They will stand up to the curry and mango. Now go get some calamari steaks and get to grilling.
Chef Tim Spain is a Florida native and has years of experience cooking professionally, both in restaurants and in private settings. He offers private catering and personal culinary classes. For more info, visit ChefTimSpain.com or call 406-580-1994.
Grilled Calamari Steak with Mango Salsa
2 6-ounce calamari steaks (tenderized)
Pinch of Montreal seasoning
Towel dry the calamari steaks. Season them with the Montreal and grill on each side for 2 minutes. Serves 2.
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup seeded and diced Jalapeños
1 tsp fresh chopped cilantro
1 tsp fresh chopped scallion
Zest and juice of one lime
Peel and dice mango. Fold all ingredients together until blended evenly.
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp of curry powder
Heat the coconut milk until it starts to bubble around the edges. Add the curry powder and reduce by half or until desired thickness.
— Recipe by Chef Tim Spain