World Cup Calimari

A salty snack: This plate of cali­mari won’t last long at your next party.

Not quite Lat­in Amer­ic­an cuisine, Brazili­an food is a blend of European, Afric­an, Nat­ive In­di­an and Ja­pan­ese in­flu­ences. Brazil’s na­tion­al bever­age is cof­fee, and its most pop­u­lar cock­tail is the Caipirinha, made from cachaca (Brazili­an rum), lime and sug­ar. Brazili­an cuisine has yet to have its mo­ment in the sun in the Phil­adelphia area. But with the World Cup and the up­com­ing Olympics be­ing held in Brazil, we may be tast­ing more of their foods— in­clud­ing oc­topus.

The fol­low­ing re­cipe is a trib­ute to Paul the Oc­topus, the psych­ic Ceph­alo­pod who lived in Ober­hausen, Ger­many’s Sea Life Centre. He made sev­er­al ac­cur­ate pre­dic­tions in the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa. This cala­mari re­cipe uses squid - a cous­in to the oc­topus (close enough). Also in­cluded are some great salsa ac­com­pani­ments to en­joy while watch­ing the World Cup soc­cer ball roll on to vic­tory.

Some­times, our loc­al fish mar­kets sell fresh squid that is gut­ted, scraped, cleaned and di­vided in­to bod­ies and tentacles, but if these are not avail­able then frozen squid can still work well. It’s best to keep the cook­ing oil at a con­stant tem­per­at­ure to cook the cala­mari un­til crisp and lightly browned.         


Can­ola oil for fry­ing

1 lb. cleaned squid, tentacles left whole, bod­ies cut in­to 1-inch rings

¾ cup corn­starch

¾ cup flour

1 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder

¼ tsp. cay­enne pep­per

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground black pep­per

½ cup but­ter­milk or 2 Tb­sp. vin­eg­ar plus reg­u­lar milk to fill ½ cup

- Rinse squid well in cold wa­ter. Drain and pat dry.

- In a me­di­um bowl, mix to­geth­er corn­starch, flour, Chinese five-spice powder, cay­enne, salt and pep­per.

- In a sep­ar­ate bowl, pour the but­ter­milk.

- Dip cala­mari in­to the but­ter­milk. 

- Dip cala­mari in corn­starch/flour mix­ture. Shake off ex­cess.

- Pour oil to depth of 2-3 inches in a heavy large pot or wok. Heat oil un­til one drop of wa­ter sizzles when ad­ded to oil in the pan.     

- Work­ing in batches, care­fully add dipped squid to hot oil in pan. Fry about 2 minutes, un­til squid is crisp and lightly browned.  

- Turn pieces with tongs to cook both sides evenly. Make sure not to crowd the pan.

- Use a slot­ted spoon and trans­fer cala­mari to pa­per tow­el-lined plate to blot off ex­cess oil.

- Trans­fer to plate and serve warm.   

- Warm mar­in­ara sauce is al­ways a good com­pan­ion for cala­mari dip­ping. Or, for a dif­fer­ent taste, put to­geth­er the fol­low­ing sauce. Al­though not from Brazil, it is a good one.       


¼ tsp. ses­ame oil

2 scal­lions, chopped

1 tsp. honey

1 Tb­sp. rice vin­eg­ar

2 tsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. fish or oyster sauce

1 tsp. dry mus­tard

1 gar­lic clove, minced

- Com­bine all in­gredi­ents in blender or pro­cessor.

- Blend well and trans­fer to serving bowl.

With Jer­sey to­ma­toes ripen­ing on the vine as we speak, the fol­low­ing re­cipes are a sum­mer de­light. Garden fresh is best, but, for now, Flor­ida or Geor­gia can provide pretty good al­tern­at­ives for fresh-made sal­sas. These sal­sas are also good on bur­gers, fish, chick­en, steak or cat­fish wraps, or served with tor­tilla chips.


½ cup wa­ter­mel­on, diced

½ cup red onion, diced small

½ cup canned pine­apple, diced small

1 small jalapeno pep­per, diced small

2 to­ma­toes, diced           

1 tsp. Goya Adobo

½ tsp. sea salt

½ tsp. black pep­per

½ cup fresh cil­antro, chopped

- Mix wa­ter­mel­on, onion, pine­apple, pep­per and to­ma­toes.

- Add Adobo. Add and ad­just the salt and pep­per to taste.

- Add cil­antro and serve.       


4 ripe to­ma­toes, seeded, chopped fine

1 small onion, chopped fine

1 gar­lic clove, minced   

2 jalapeno pep­pers, seeded, chopped fine

1/3 of a lime, fresh squeezed

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pep­per

½ cup fresh cil­antro, chopped

- Com­bine to­ma­toes, onion, gar­lic, pep­pers and lime.

- Add and ad­just the salt and pep­per to taste.   

- Add cil­antro and serve.

As of the time of this writ­ing, al­though Paul the Oc­topus was the first an­im­al soc­cer or­acle, “Shaheen,” an Emir­ati camel, has called the win­ners in the 2014 World Cup games “spot on,” ac­cord­ing to a Brit­ish an­noun­cer.

Eat well, live long, en­joy!

(Ques­tions or tips can be sent to Donna Zit­ter Bor­de­lon at Whats­cook­in­ or in care of the North­east Times, 3412 Pro­gress Drive, Suite C, Ben­s­alem, PA 19020)

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