Calamari a la Plancha

Calamari a la Plancha

A la plancha is a Spanish term that refers to a method of searing food over a very hot metal plate. We go through about 15 tons of fresh calamari a year. Squid is seasonal—it’s at its peak in the summer through early fall—and there are times of the year when it’s hard to find. We serve this dish only when we have fresh calamari, because the frozen product contains too much water and never really caramelizes the right way. Don’t be shy with the seasonings; this is not supposed to be a subtle dish.–Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer

Calamari a la Plancha

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 25 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Put 2 large saute pans (cast iron if possible) over high heat until very hot, about 3 to 4 minute.

Pat the calamari dry with paper towels and then season them lightly with salt.

Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in one of the pans and sear the calamari until it releases its liquid, about 4 minutes.

Put the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the other pan and then remove the pan from the heat and hold it, at an angle, near the pan with the calamari. Lift the calamari from the first pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to the second pan, leaving the juices in the first pan.

Return the second pan to the heat and add the garlic and tentacles. Cook until the calamari is nicely browned. Add the parsley and pepper flakes, stir, and remove the pan from the heat.

Divide the calamari among 4 serving plates, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, and garnish each plate with sea salt and a lemon wedge.

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Recipe Testers' Tips

This is a great way to eat squid, although I feel this recipe is written to be a little fussier than it needs to be. I ignored the author’s warning not to use frozen squid, as that was all I could get. I made sure the squid was dry by cutting it a couple hours in advance and spreading the pieces on a paper towel-lined baking sheet and refrigerating them until ready to cook. I had no problem with excess moisture. I did follow the method in the recipe of using two pans, which is also intended to prevent excess moisture in the dish, although I believe this wasn’t really necessary. The main thing is to make sure the squid is dry going into the pan, that the pan is large enough to hold it without crowding, and that the pan is hot enough that any liquid released evaporates immediately. I made this recipe on the stove, as I wanted to test the author’s instructions, but next time I would make it on the a cast-iron griddle outdoors on the grill. The ingredients in this dish are simple but there is a lot of flavor here. Use a high-quality olive oil to finish, and don’t skip the lemon.

I was so very glad to have tried this recipe, as I’d tried making calamari à la plancha from what I recall eating in Portugal and Spain, yet the calamari never came out crisp enough. Using two cast iron skillets totally did the trick. I can’t wait to have more gatherings so I can make this as an appetizer. This recipe brings back great, great memories of southern Europe.

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  1. If you want Spanish squid, this is how you do it. The squid will release A LOT of juices, so the second pan is mandatory. Yes, you can cook it in one pan, but comes out less crispy, plus the juices can get dark orange from the squid pigment.

    I added green onion at the end, and cooked it just for a minute. This is the original Spanish recipe. Enjoy!

  2. I find that the author’s recipe really was the best, though. They recommended using fresh squid, and so I did today, and the result was really the best of the best. I first boiled the squid for about 15 minutes in some salted water. Then I added the rest of the ingredients as the recipe was saying, but I replaced the hot red pepper flakes with fresh hot red pepper instead. Good job and well done.

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