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Calamari à la Plancha

A white plate topped with calamari à la plancha -- seared calamari -- with a bottle of wine in the background.
Calamari à la plancha is a delightfully crisp and spiced dish, popular in Spain and Portugal. Seared over high heat in cast iron until caramelized, then given a hearty spicing, it's a quick yet impressive meal.
Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer

Prep 10 mins
Cook 15 mins
Total 25 mins
Appetizer
Spanish
4 servings
242 kcal

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound cleaned fresh calamari cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch-thick (25-to-40-mm) rings, and tentacles, if included with the squid
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic 3 to 5 cloves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt for garnish
  • 4 lemon wedges for garnish

Directions 

  • Put 2 large saute pans (cast iron if possible) over high heat until very hot, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  • 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 move 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.

Notes

What does cooking a la plancha mean?

Basically, in Spanish, it means cooking on a metal plate. But in reality, it's more than that. Essentially a flattop grill, cooking on a plancha is like using a griddle, except that it's usually round—which allows for the heat to spread out in a circular motion and results in a very hot surface.
Perfect for searing proteins like beef or fish, a plancha easily reaches temps of 450°F (232°C) and gives your meat a golden-brown crust that makes everything so flavorful and juicy. Not only that, planchas are loved for their ability to cook quickly without a lot of added fat or oil. This means that not only is it healthy but it also lets all those flavors shine through. Whatever you choose to cook this way, from calamari to beef to fresh veggies, expect a luscious level of caramelization and some subtle charring.
Images of both sides of a Lodge pre-seasoned cast-iron plancha.Lodge Pre-Seasoned Plancha/Grill/Griddle, $30 at Amazon.com