Fried Calamari with Romesco

Fried Calamari with Romesco

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Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 Serves 4.
Romesco sauce originated in Tarragona, in the Catalan region of Spain, and is traditionally served with grilled, poached or deep-fried fish.


  • 1 lb. fresh or thawed frozen calamari, cut into
      1⁄2-inch rings, tentacles left intact
  • 1 cup milk
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the romesco sauce:

  • 1 oz. French bread chunks (about 2 slices),
      crusts removed
  • 3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1⁄3 cup toasted almonds
  • 1⁄4 cup drained diced tomatoes
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Vegetable or canola oil for deep-frying
  • 1 cup rice flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄2 cup coarse yellow cornmeal or polenta
  • 1 Tbs. paprika
  • 1⁄8 tsp. cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • Minced fresh flat-leaf parsley for
     garnish (optional)


In a bowl, combine the calamari, milk, and a pinch each of salt and black pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.

Meanwhile, make the romesco sauce: In a bowl, combine the bread and vinegar. In a food processor, pulse the almonds until grainy. Add the bread-vinegar mixture, the tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, paprika and cayenne and puree until smooth. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream and puree until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place an ovenproof platter in an oven and preheat to 150°F. In a heavy, deep fry pan or wide saucepan, pour in vegetable oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer.

Drain the calamari. In a large bowl, combine the rice flour, cornmeal, paprika, cayenne, 1 tsp. salt and 1⁄4 tsp. black pepper. Add half of the calamari and toss to coat evenly, then transfer the coated calamari to a colander and shake gently to remove excess flour.

Add the coated calamari to the hot oil and deep-fry, using a wire skimmer or slotted spoon to push it gently into the oil occasionally, until crisp and golden brown, about 1 minute. Using the skimmer or spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain briefly, then place on the platter in the oven. Coat the remaining calamari and fry in the same way.

Garnish the calamari with the parsley and place a small bowl or ramekin holding the romesco in the center of the platter. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Sauce, by Brigit L. Binns (Simon & Schuster, 2004).
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