1 pound calamari, rinsed, tubes cut into 1/2-inch rings and tentacles halved lengthwise
1/3 cup whole milk or buttermilk
Cooking oil, safflower or any neutral oil, about 2 quarts, or 3” deep
2 lemons, 1 sliced into thin rings, seeds removed, divided and 1 for juicing
1 small bulb fennel, halved, cored and shredded on a mandoline or large tooth side of a box grater (save the fronds and chop)
2-3 celery stalks, thin sliced on a heavy bias (save the leaves and chop)
1 handful parsley tops, half rough chopped and half left as whole leaves
Salt and pepper
1 ½ cups AP flour
1 ½ cups beer or seltzer water
½ teaspoon baking powder
Sprinkle of fennel pollen or ground fennel
Sprinkle of fine sea salt
A few stalks of fresh rosemary
1/2 cup hot cherry pepper rings
Serves: 4 as an appetizer
Place the calamari in a bowl or gallon size resealable bag with milk and half of the sliced lemon. If using buttermilk, do not use lemon. Let soak for 20-30 minutes. Drain and pat dry on a stack of paper towels.
Preheat oil in a Dutch oven or deep metal pot over medium-high heat to 350-360 degrees.
While the oil is heating, in a medium mixing bowl, toss together the fennel and fronds, celery and leaves, chopped parsley tops and dress with lemon juice, EVOO, salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a medium to large size mixing bowl add the flour and the beer or seltzer and stir until just combined, but not over-mixed. Add in the baking powder, fine sea salt and fennel pollen.
Drop the calamari into the batter and gently stir. Remove using a spider (or large slotted spoon), gently shake off and place in the hot oil giving it a gentle stir. Cook in small batches, making sure not to crowd the pan, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and season right when it comes out of the oil with salt.
When all of the calamari is cooked, put in your choice of rosemary, parsley, very thin slices of lemon (seeds removed) and/or hot cherry pepper rings and fry. Be careful as this will splatter and pop more than the calamari. Remove and drain on a paper towel lined plate.
* This will also work with halved scallops and sustainable white fish. © 2019 Ray Marks Co. LLC. All rights reserved.