Fried Calamari with Rouille, Cherry Peppers and Lemon

A very meaty chile pepper that is great to add heat to hot pepper jelly or relish. It can also be stuffed or chopped and used in fresh salsas.

In Italy these first are pickled in vinegar brine then stuffed with ingredients like provolone cheese and prosciutto ham. After being stuffed they are marinated with herbs and olive oil.

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Ingredients:

Quick Rouille:

1 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 large garlic clove, minced

Calamari:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup chopped seeded pickled cherry peppers
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

vegetable oil (for frying)

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 pounds fresh or thawed frozen small calamari, bodies cleaned and cut into 1/2′ rings, leave tentacles whole

Instructions:

For quick rouille:

Stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl and blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate.)

For calamari:

Heat the olive oil in large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the crushed red pepper and stir for 30 seconds. Add the cherry peppers (mixture may splatter) and stir for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir in a teaspoon of lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Add enough vegetable oil to another large skillet to come 1″ up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil to 375F.

Whisk the cornmeal, flour, salt and pepper together in a medium bowl to blend. Toss the calamari rings and tentacles into the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Working in batches, fry the calamari in oil until the pieces are brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the calamari to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt. Transfer the fried calamari to a large bowl.

Rewarm the cherry pepper mixture and drizzle it over the calamari. Toss to coat and serve with rouille and lemon wedges.

Makes 6-8 servings.

Recipe from Bon App├ętit Magazine, September 2004.