This particular dish is heavily influenced by some of my favourite Sri Lankan flavours: the appetite-inducing curry leaves and the serious chilli hit that's found in so many of the recipes from there. As far as I can tell, the term ‘devilled’ can be applied to endless variations of dishes as long as there’s chilli – clearly it's a very broad term. Here I’ve coupled those elements with the sweetness of Italian marsala and the freshness of raw fennel, giving you a powerful combination of flavours all working in harmony. This is a quick dish to cook so make sure you have everything ready to go before you start.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 medium eschalots, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup curry leaves
- 1 long green chilli, sliced thinly and diagonally
- 1 tsp hot chilli powder
- 400 g calamari cut on a slight angle into 1 cm strips
- 40 ml Marsala
- 30 g butter
- 50 ml chicken stock
- 20–40 ml lemon juice
- 1 small head of fresh fennel, cut in half and then sliced finely on a mandolin
- ½ cup basil leaves
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.
Place a large frypan on a medium heat and make sure it’s nice and hot before adding the oil. Let the oil warm before throwing in your eschallots to fry. Stir often for about 3 minutes.
Add the curry leaves and green chilli and fry or another minute. You should hear the leaves sizzling and smell them releasing their distinctive aroma. Season with salt.
Add the chilli powder, making sure you are still stirring vigorously as it will start sticking to the bottom of the pan otherwise. After a few moments, turn the heat to high, add in the calamari, still stirring, and watch until it starts to turn opaque.
Pour in the marsala and give your pan another little jiggle and stir before adding the butter and stock. At this stage everything should be bubbling along. Turn down the heat and have a quick taste so you can figure out how much lemon juice and salt you’ll need to add. Your sauce should taste a little rich, very spicy and a bit sweet. Please hurry here as you don’t want the calamari to over cook.
Add the lemon juice and have a taste of a piece of calamari to make sure it’s nicely cooked before adding the fennel and giving it all a final toss so everything is mingling happily.
Remove from the heat, tear the basil and throw it over the calamari before spooning everything onto a nice large warmed serving platter.
Drizzle over some good quality olive oil before serving.
• Marsala is a fortified wine made in Marsala, Sicily. You can buy some very delicious and expensive versions, but for this recipe a cooking-style works just fine. You will discover that the cheaper versions are not always called Marsala due to strict rules governing names in Italy, as true Marsala is made in Marsala. The quality does vary considerably as does the sweetness, so don’t be scared if you have to add lots of lemon juice or more salt to gain a balanced flavour.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Trish Heagarty.