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Fried Squid with Smoked Paprika Aioli

The bold flavor of smoked paprika is brought even more to the forefront when paired with some type of oil or fat, here the olive oil and egg yolk in the rich mayonnaise-based dipping sauce. It’s enhanced by a generous dose of garlic, then served as a companion to crunchy cornmeal-coated fried squid.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise  
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika, or to taste 
  • Sea salt 
  • 1 pound squid bodies and tentacles, cleaned  
  • Rice bran or canola oil for deep-frying  
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal 
  • 1/2 cup semolina flour 

Directions:

In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic and smoked paprika and mix well. Season to taste with salt and more paprika. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cut the squid bodies into rings about 1⁄3 inch wide, drain well and set aside along with the tentacles.

Pour oil into a heavy saucepan to a depth of 3 inches and warm over medium-high heat until it reaches 360°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Line a rimmed baking sheet with paper towels and place near the stove. Preheat an oven to 200°F.

While the oil is heating, in a bowl, combine the cornmeal, semolina and 1 1⁄2 tsp. salt. Add the squid and toss until evenly coated. Using your hands, lift the squid out of the bowl, shaking off the excess, and place it on a plate near the stove.

When the oil is ready, drop in about one-fourth of the coated squid and cook until golden brown and crisp, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a skimmer, transfer the squid to the paper towel–lined baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat to fry the remaining squid.

Transfer the squid to a warmed platter and set the aioli alongside for dipping. Serve right away. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Appetizers, by Amy Sherman (Oxmoor House, 2008).