A speciality of seaside and island Greek tavernas in the summertime, baby squid (or kalamarakia), features widely on menus, and is cooked in various ways, often simply prepared with an obligatory squeeze of lemon. This marinated, chargrilled calamari can be served as an appetiser, or as a meal with sides, most commonly a Greek salad and saganaki (fried cheese). You will need to marinate the calamari overnight.

Serves
4

Preparation

15min

Cooking

20min

Skill level

Easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 lemon, zested, juiced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp rigani (Greek oregano) or regular oregano
  • 80 ml (⅔ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 16 (about 800 g) baby calamari, cleaned, skin removed, tentacles reserved 
  • lemon wedges, souvlaki bread, black olives and peperoncini (pickled peppers), to serve 


Fried saganaki

  • 400 g kefalograviera (see Note) or kasseri (see Note)
  • 35 g (⅔ cup) plain flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp ouzo (see Note) or other white spirit
  • ½ lemon, juiced


Greek salad

  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, sliced into rings
  • 40 g (¼ cup) Kalamata olives
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.

Marinating time overnight

Whisk lemon zest and juice, garlic, rigani and 60 ml oil in a bowl. Reserve one-third in a separate bowl, cover and set aside. Toss calamari hoods and tentacles with remaining marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To make saganaki, cut cheese into 4 x 1.5 cm-thick rectangles. Dip each piece in water, shake off excess then dust with flour. Heat oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over high heat. Add cheese and cook for 3 minutes each side or until golden. Add ouzo, remove from heat and ignite. Drizzle with lemon juice and keep warm.

To make salad, combine tomato, cucumber, onion and olives in a bowl. Whisk oil and oregano until combined. Drizzle over salad and toss gently to combine.

Drain calamari and season with salt and pepper. Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in a chargrill pan over high heat and cook calamari, basting halfway with reserved marinade, for 3 minutes each side or until golden.

Transfer to a plate and serve with fried saganaki, Greek salad, lemon wedges, souvlaki bread, black olives and pickled peppers.

Note

Kefalograviera is a hard, salty, Greek sheep’s-milk cheese. Kasseri is a semi-soft Greek sheep’s-milk cheese. Both are available from selected delis and specialist food shops.

Ouzo, from bottle shops, is an anise-flavoured liqueur.

Drink 2011 Margan Semillon, Hunter Valley ($18)

As seen in Feast Magazine, Issue 14, pg64.

Photography by Armelle Habib