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While breaded calamari rings rule the appetizer menu, squid steaks offer a meatier -- though still finely sliced -- entree alternative. These seafood cuts feature rich and savory seafood flavor that shines through even with the simplest of seasonings. The skillet and grill serve as the best methods for preparing calamari steak, as a quick, high-heat searing keeps the squid from taking on a rubbery texture.
To cook calamari steak on the stove top, add a few spoonfuls of olive oil to a heavy skillet over medium heat. Allow the oil to get hot, but not smoky. Keep the heat at a medium-high level and cook each steak for 45 seconds to 1 minute on each side, depending on the thickness of the steak. These compact cuts cook very quickly; you know they're done when they're lightly golden on the outside and white on the inside with a firm, but not rubbery, texture.
Grilling calamari relies on the same principle as pan-searing. Like the stovetop, first prep your grill so that you achieve a consistent medium-high heat. Brush both sides of the steak with a few spoonfuls of olive oil and grill for about one to two minutes per side, depending on the steak's thickness. Turn once, halfway through cooking. The steaks should take on a lightly browned finish. Just as on the stovetop, a translucent center indicates an undercooked calamari steak while a rubbery texture indicates an overcooked steak.
Season Your Squid
Whether you choose to cook your calamari on the stove top or the grill, a little pre-seasoning goes a long way. Classic seasonings such as sea salt, crushed garlic and black pepper work well, as do red pepper flakes for a spicier edge. Conversely, spices such as basil, parsley and fennel lend a cooler tone to the meat. A warm combination of lemon juice, melted butter, capers and an optional dash of white wine adds a time-tested, piccata-like flavor to the dish when brushed or poured on after cooking.
If you prefer lightly breaded calamari, dredge the steak in seasoned flour then give it a quick dip in a beaten egg before adding it to the skillet. Saute it until the breading takes on a golden color. If you cook multiple steaks, keep your cooked steaks warm on a covered platter. Serve calamari steaks immediately after cooking, as cold steaks are more likely to turn a bit rubbery. Garnish with lemon wedges to give your calamari a tangy pop.
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