Calamaretti alla piastra (Griddled Baby Squid)

Franksecondi piatti28 Comments

Calamaretti alla piastra (Griddled Baby Squid)

Quick and easy to make, calamaretti alla piastra, or Griddled Baby Squid, are a tasty summer treat. With some tangy Sicilian salmoriglio sauce on the side for dipping, these little flavor bombs make a delightful antipasto, but if you up the portions they can also be a light main course.

A searing hot griddle is my favorite way to make this dish, as it gives the squid wonderful color and flavor, but if you want to grill these babies they’d be every bit as good. And the recipe works equally well with regular squid if you can’t find baby squid, or just prefer a more substantial dish.

Ingredients

Serves 4-6

  • 1 kilo (2 lbs) baby squid (or regularly squid), cleaned

For the marinade:

  • The juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Serve with salmoriglio sauce.

Directions

If the squid aren’t pre-cleaned, separate the tentacles from the body and then remove the “beak” and other innards from inside the sac. (See Notes for details.)

Score one side of each squid body with a paring knife, taking care to cut deeply enough to open up the cavity but not to cut all the way through. (Inserting a butter knife into the cavity helps with this.)

Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add the squid and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

When you are ready to cook, drain the squid well of its marinade, patting it dry.

Heat your griddle as hot as you can get it then sear the squid pieces on both sides until they hves browned nicely—but take care not to overcook the squid. If the griddle is hot enough, the process shouldn’t take more than 2-3 minutes per side.

Serve right away, on a bed of salmoriglio sauce, and more on the side for those who like to dip.

Calamaretti alla piastra (Griddled Baby Squid)

Notes on Calamaretti alla piastra

The recipe is simplicity itself, as you will have noticed. The only real trick to it is to avoid toughening the squid by overcooking. You really want your griddle (or grill) just as hot as you can get it, for an almost instant sear. I rather like using a cast iron plate placed over hot coals and allowed to get super-hot. But a stovetop griddle will work fine if you don’t want to fire up your barbecue.

Scoring the body (aka mantle) is optional, but it serves the purpose of letting any inside juices escape quickly, which makes the cooking go faster, and tenderizes the flesh a bit.

I like baby squid for this dish. It cooks quickly and is full of flavor. If using regularly squid, look for ones on the smaller size. The bigger the squid, the more like it is to be tough; they’re better suited for braised dishes.

Almost all squid these days is sold pre-cleaned, but if you find your squid whole, you’ll need to clean it. It’s not hard at all, as this excellent tutorial video shows:

Variations

As mentioned at the top, grilling is an equally (and in fact probably more common) alternative to griddling. In fact, in some ways it’s a superior method as iany squid juices to simply fall away and evaporate instantly. And again, as with griddling, just make sure the fire is good and hot, so the squid cooks quickly and sears nicely over direct heat.

You can vary the marinade to your liking. Some recipes add parsley or other herbs to the marinade. In others, a sprig of rosemary is inserted in each squid sac (too much work if ask me). I’ve used garlic powder instead of fresh garlic. Sacrilege, I know… ! But it actually works well and avoids burnt bits of garlic.

One variation, from Sicily, I like very much is to dip the calamari pieces in breadcrumbs before griddling. Grilling is out in this case since direct contact with the flame would burn the breadcrumbs.

Many (most) recipes for calamaretti alla piastra omit any sort of sauce in favor of a wedge of lemon at most. But I do like salmoriglio sauce, a kind of salsa verde for seafood. This Sicilian sauce adds a pleasant tang to just about any seafood dish. As I mentioned, I like it so much I serve extra on the side for dipping. (Not traditional!) You could also hold back a bit of the marinade and use it as a sauce when serving.

Calamaretti alla piastra

Griddled Baby Squid
Course: Antipasto, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: grilled, quick, seafood

Ingredients

  • 1 kilo 2 lbs baby squid (or regularly squid) cleaned
  • 1 lemon freshly squeezed
  • 1-2 1-2 garlic cloves peeled and finely minced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Optional

  • Salmoriglio sauce

Instructions

  • If the squid aren't pre-cleaned, separate the tentacles from the body and then remove the "beak" and other innards from inside the sac. (See Notes for details.)
  • Score one side of each squid body with a paring knife, taking care to cut deeply enough to open up the cavity but not to cut all the way through. (Inserting a butter knife into the cavity helps with this.)
  • Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add the squid and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  • When you are ready to cook, drain the squid well of its marinade, patting it dry.
  • Heat your griddle as hot as you can get it then sear the squid pieces on both sides until they have browned nicely—but take care not to overcook the squid. If the griddle is hot enough, the process shouldn't take more than 2-3 minutes per side.
  • Serve right away, on a bed of salmoriglio sauce, and more on the side for those who like to dip.

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28 Comments on “Calamaretti alla piastra (Griddled Baby Squid)”

  1. Looking forward to my next trip to Whole Foods so I can get some calamari. This is something mark saw before me, and he went right to my list and added the calamari. Pushy, that one… (Not that I am complaining!)

  2. Just wonderful! I love squid but have never cooked it on the grill. I’m going to try it. It’s always summer here in Northern Australia – perfect for this recipe.

  3. Fascinating. I have to say that I learned quite a bit from this post. I’ve eaten squid before, but I’ve never cooked it myself here at home. I’m intrigued now. And I watched that whole video, too – excellent! The simplicity of this dish is amazing, and I want to try it. Knowing me, I’ll probably try grilling it since I love grilling anything and everything. Hmmm…speaking of that, I wonder if you could smoke squid? I’m guessing they might get too chewy, but I dunno. One way to find out…

    1. Thanks, David! I’d be interested to hear if you give smoking the squid a try. It might come out chewy, or maybe not. There are two ways to cook squid, essentially: Very quickly under intense heat, as in this case, or low and slow. Both results in tender squid. The low and slow method usually involves braising, but maybe smoking would do the same? Worth a try..

  4. This is exactly my kind of dish, I ordered squid in Spain almost every time we were out, how I miss that! This recipe looks quite easy to prepare, do you know the internal temperature of properly cooked squid?

  5. What a wonderful antipasto dish. I’ve experience grilled squid before and quite enjoy them. But, I’ve not enjoyed them griddled with your salmoriglio sauce. We rarely see baby squid here, but can get smallish squid occasionally from our fishmonger truck. I will inquire as to availability, as I must try this.

  6. I’m definitely going to make the sauce because I have most of the ingredients in my garden. Thanks for the recipe.

  7. Absolutely love squid and all its family and have prepared simple variations on the theme about weekly most of my life . . . primo or secondo . . .We do not use the word ‘griddle’ in Australia . . . I either use a grill pan atop a very hot top burner or, more often, put a tray of these under the red hot grill in my stove grill drawer . . . some of my US food-friends have said this is not part of your usual; stove structure . . . it always is here and is the main way we grill both proteins and vegetables ‘onder the grill’ . . . ?

    1. It’s true that a grill drawer is not terribly common these days (I remember, though, my grandmother had one in her kitchen.) But people get a similar effect just using the broiler in their ovens at high heat and with the rack placed close to the heat source. Or, of course, they grill outside on the BBQ.

  8. I just made this sauce tonight. Unfortunately, my grocery did not have squid, but they did have two swordfish steaks that stood in just as well! What a great sauce to put on grilled swordfish. This is company worthy and, when my heart-conscious father-in-law comes to visit I will be able to blow his socks off with a flavor-packed meal. My wife swore up and down that the sauce contained butter, it was so luscious. Thanks for this one Frank!

  9. The squid looks wonderful — such a great way to prepare it. The marinade is wonderful, and serving it with salmoriglio sauce is inspired. In fact this whole dish is inspired, and quite easy to make, as you say. Good stuff. Thanks.

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