BBQ’d Stuffed Calamari

by Ms Cuisine

I have had a culinary lust for calamari (aka squid) for years. The texture, flavour and the variety of cooking methods that are suited to it; such as bake, deep fry, shallow fry, steam or BBQ, make calamari an often cooked item in either our house or on the boat. A rule of thumb with cooking squid (or calamari) is to cook for either a very, very short time or a very, very long time. Anything in between and you are in “chewing on gum” territory.

In this recipe, the calamari hoods will be stuffed with a savoury mixture into which you can add the finely chopped tentacles and flaps. Alternatively, you can do as I did for the photo, and BBQ the tentacles and flaps separately before serving them with the stuffed hoods.

To clean the squid, grasp the body in one hand and the tentacles (with head attached) in the other. Pull to separate. If you are going to use the tentacles (and why not), then cut the head off the calamari away from the tentacles and discard. Inside the calamari is a transparent cartilage called the quill. Gently pull this quill from inside the hood and discard the quill. Gently prod around inside the hood and discard any white membrane type stuff and any ink sacs etc. The inside of the hood should be completely empty. Under cold water, rinse out the inside of the hood and also rub the skin layer away from the hood.

The flaps on the side of the calamari can be kept and used in the stuffing.


Stuffing Ingredients

The following quantities are sufficient for stuffing three to four large calamari or a dozen small ones (baby squid). The small squid are great as finger food though they will disappear very quickly as the plate gets passed around. So if the cook wants one, take advantage of your position at the BBQ.

I have used oregano in the stuffing; however you could substitute either; thyme, marjoram or a small amount of basil (you don’t want to overpower it).

If I am BBQing the tentacles and flaps separately, and not including them in the stuffing, I will retain a little of the stuffing as a garnish to sprinkle across the pieces and hoods after BBQing them.

If, however, you are adding the chopped tentacles and flaps to the stuffing mixture, retaining any of the stuffing mixture (for garnish) won’t be unnecessary.

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 red tomato, deseeded and finely chopped

1\2 small green capsicum, finely chopped

The finely chopped tentacles and body flaps (optional)

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (packet ones don’t work in this recipe)

100gms feta, finely crumbled

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)

Heat the canola oil over a medium heat in a heavy based frypan. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic, tomato and green capsicum. Stir fry the lot for a few minutes until the mixture starts to soften. Maybe add the chopped calamari tentacles and flaps (optional) to the mixture in the frypan and continue to cook for a further two minutes. Remove the frypan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.

In a bowl, combine the mixture from the frying pan, plus fresh breadcrumbs, crumbled feta and oregano (or your alternative). Mix together thoroughly. This mixture can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a few hours until you are ready to stuff the squid hoods.

When you are ready to stuff the hoods, carefully spoon some of the stuffing into each hood. Take care not to overstuff the hoods. If you do, the stuffing will expand and could cause the hoods to split during BBQing. Seal the open ends of the hoods with a toothpick.

Heat your BBQ plate or grill to a medium high heat. You could also use a cast iron frypan as an alternative. Lightly oil the BBQ, grill or pan with a little oil. Place the stuffed hoods plus any extraneous tentacles and flaps on the heat. Cook the hoods and calamari parts, turning occasionally, for a few minutes on each side, until the hoods are just golden. Remove the calamari from the heat. If you are using small calamari, they can be served whole. If you are using larger calamari, then remove the toothpicks and slice through the calamari on the diagonal to serve, perhaps with a wedge of lemon. The filling of the hoods should be tender and the feta should be oozy.