Thursday, 20 March 2008

Squid kapama (Καλαμαράκια καπαμά)

When I was young, I was very lucky to have access to fresh fish, as it was in my parents' line of business. My father would bring home fresh seafood every now and then when he returned from his daily shopping at the wholesale fish market. We were privileged to be able to eat fresh lobster, crayfish and squid, which my mum usually cooked in a tomato sauce. We hardly ever ate it fried at home in this sense. My mother also bought canned California squid in brine, which she would turn into a salad dressed Mediterranean style: on opening the tin, she would pour out the brine, wash the squid and pour olive oil and lemon juice over them. We'd have them (the PORTOLA brand) as an accompaniment to a bean dish.

Great Lent is a time to indulge in seafood, something we don't do very often in our house because, apart from the price of fresh seafood, they are also high in cholesterol. Here's another way of preparing tinned California squid (otherwise known in Greece as 'calamari') that is often enjoyed in Crete, which is available very cheaply here (2 euro per can).

You need:
1/4 cup olive oil
5 medium onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
3 tins of baby California squid, drained and rinsed (I'm feeding a lot of people at the moment - and some of them don't have many teeth left!)
400g of pureed tomatoes (tinned ones do fine)
salt and pepper
a handful of chopped fresh parsley

Heat the oil and saute the onions and garlic till the onions are transparent. Add the calamari, and stir it in, to coat all the squid with oil. Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper and enough water to cover the squid above 1cm. Cover the pot and let the calamari cook until the onion is tender. Add a handful of chopped parsley towards the end of cooking time. It's very simple to prepare, and very Mediterranean.

This dish can also be made with fresh squid: for a more elaborate meal, stew fresh (or freshly frozen) baby kalamari (or cuttlefish chopped in large pieces) in the same sauce, along with chopped pieces of fennel bulb. Ripe treated green olives are also added at the end of cooking time (although I wouldn't say I prefer this). This stew is often served with fried potatoes, but it's also fantastic (and healthier) served on a bed of plain rice and a lettuce salad to accompany it.

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Bakaliaros - bakaliaraki
Octopus stew
Mussels sauce
Shrimp in lemon
Squid fried