Thursday, April 11, 2013

Korean Calamari

Slightly spicy calamari appetizer/salad recipe for those who loves Korean food... 
Blog's Category:  International, My Own Fast and Easy

Korean Calamari



I love calamari but I do not have that many good recipes for it. Calamari is just tough ingredient for me. Fried breaded (or "sesame-seeded") calamari rings and one stir-fry style calamari - that's all what I have on hand for favorites.

That's why I was so happy to add this new recipe below to my 'calamari faves'. Some oriental ingredients will be needed for it which you will easily find in any Asian store nearby.

Besides being tasty, it is...

... healthy - vegetables and skinny-proteiny calamari!
... very colorful, nice looking on the table - great for entertainment gatherings

Taste Description
Sweet-&-sour-&-spicy, it will definitely satisfy your craving for oriental spicy food. Spice tolerance is such a subjective matter, but I would say spice level here is somewhere at a medium level and, of course, you can regulate it adding more or less red pepper paste.

Sesame oil, definitely, adds signature Korean flavor to a dish - surprisingly enough, fare quantity of it in this recipe does not bother me as usually when sesame oil added in a more than 'drops' measures. Texture is very rich and complex in this dish - beautifully chewy calamari, sesame seeds popping under your teeth, smooth, tender-crisp vegetables are united here in a great symphony of textures.
How to Serve

Serve cold as an appetizer or as a salad, in a bowl, family meal style. You can eat it warm also, piled up onto your freshly steamed rice - it would be perfect lunch for me :)
I served it room temperature, in a bowl, garnished with quickly broiled chili peppers for those (me!) who wanted extra-kick.

Korean Calamari

  • 4 large calamari tubes, fresh or frozen
  • 1 sweet red pepper, sliced into thick sticks
  • 2 carrots, sliced about 1/4" thick
  • 1 medium onion, sliced across into strips
  • 1 tbs red pepper paste (stuff is spicy.. this quantity is for about medium level of spiciness)
  • 2 tbs soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbs sugar
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar (or 1.5 tbs regular vinegar)
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2-3 tbs roasted sesame seeds
  • 3 green chilli (optional, bought at Indian store)

- Cut calamari into rings or if you want them to look more exotic (like on my photo above) then cut tube along, to open it up, and lay it flat on a cutting board. Then slice it along the tube into 1/3" strips - during cooking they will swirl up into random warm-shaped strips.

- In a large bowl, stir red pepper paste, soy sauce and vinegar together. Then add calamari and the rest of ingredients, except the last two (sesame oil and sesame seeds).

- Cook your calamari mix in a preheated pan, stirring, for about 10 minutes or until calamari are cooked (lost their translucency) and carrot is half-tender.

- With a slotted spatula, remove all calamari and vegetables from a pan into a bowl.

- Continue to cook liquid sauce until it's reduced to a slightly thick glaze (it took me a minute or two to reduce to a glaze). Remove from a heat, stir sesame oil into a glaze and pour glaze onto your calamari and vegetables. Throw your sesame seeds on top and mix everything up - it's almost done...

- To garnish (it's optional!), take 3 fresh green chili, drop a little olive oil on it and 'pat' oil onto chili with your hands. Place under a broiler for 5 or so minutes until they got burnt a bit. Garnish your calamari with these chili - it's done - enjoy (I love to eat it with chopsticks)!

Slicing carrots with a mandoline is a brisk (but dangerous affair if you are novice to a mandoline!)

All ingredients are ready (I removed green chili before cooking as I figured out that broiling them separately will be better)

This is starting to reduce sauce I left with after I removed my calamari and veggies..

It's invisible (in a dark pan) glaze, already with sesame oil added.

Sauce looks good, doesn't it

Broiled chilli peppers add that final touch that I like a lot. Even if there won't be volunteers to eat one, it just looks neat. Although I would advise you to try - they are, surprisingly, on a mild side of hot scale. 

- Use any other color of a sweet pepper if you don't have red one.
- Wine vinegar (or any other type of vinegar can be used in place of rice vinegar). Just adjust quantity according to acidity level of your vinegar.
- Red pepper paste is pretty much the 'must' for this recipe. You'll find it at any Asian market, usually in a red plastic tub. It's spicy and can be kept in a fridge almost forever. You can use it in any other recipe to add beautiful red color, some hit and very mild flavor to the dish.

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