Monday, March 1, 2010

Calamari and Mussles

Before February got too far in the past, I wanted to complete recipe reviews from our Valentine's dinner. (blogged here)

Our evening of Spanish treats and tapas included gazpacho, mushrooms, calamari and mussels. My recipe research must have paid off because most dishes were superb.

First the calamari. Calamares a la Plancha translates simply to grilled calamari, or calamari cooked on a hot iron (or cast iron skillet). The saute liquid was top notch, but honestly I dont feel the breadcrumbs were necessary. I will make this again!

Now for the mussels. Perfect mussels continue to allude me. I had them a few years ago at Rioja in Houston and was instantly enamored. Each time I try to replicate them, though, there is something missing. At Rioja the fish tasted of the sea without being "fishy" and the sauce was rich and earthy, perfect for dipping crusty bread. Each time I make them something is missing. This time the sauce was "thin" and there wasn't enough of it.

At least they make a pretty picture!

Calamares A La Plancha (

5 calamari tubes (size 6-8 per lb.)
2 Tbsp. panko breadcrumbs
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pinch dry chili flakes
1/4 lemon, juiced
1 pinch white pepper
little sage and oregano.

In a small mixing bowl mix all the ingredients except the calamari; Wash the calamari tubes, check them thoroughly for any remaining pieces of the spine bone inside of them, and with a sharp knife make small slits throughout the tubes. Mix the calamari tubes with the prepared seasoning (or if you want to call it marinade) and let it sit for 5 minutes.

In the meantime, heat a 10-inch cast iron pan to high temperature, grease it with oil and place the calamari neatly in it. Cook each side for only about 25-30 seconds, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, and then turn the calamari on the other side. Serve the calamari over chopped lettuce with a wedge of lemon.

Spicy Mussels with White Wine (Adapted from Bobby Flay)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
1 cup dry white wine
2 (1/4-inch-thick) lemon slices
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1/2 cup chopped seeded tomatoes
8 slices crusty Italian bread,
Olive oil

Heat oil in heavy large pot. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic, fennel seeds, crushed red pepper and salt and cook for 1 minute.

Add wine, lemon slices, and 1/4 cup parsley; bring to boil. Add mussels. Cover pot and cook until mussel shells open, stirring once, about 6 minutes; discard any mussels that do not open. Using slotted spoon, transfer mussels to large shallow bowl. Boil broth in pot until reduced to 1 cup, about 3 minutes; season, to taste, with pepper. Pour broth over mussels. Sprinkle with tomatoes and remaining parsley.

Brush bread on both sides with oil and season with salt. Grill until golden brown on both sides. Serve mussels with bread for dipping.

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