Guide to Cold Calamari
  |  First Published: August 2012

Among my favourites on the table are freshly caught calamari rings. They’re also a commonly requested contribution to friends’ barbecues when I ask if there’s anything I can bring.

However, my calamari rings are a bit different. Not deep fried and no flour. They’re at their very best when served cold as an entrée or alongside a summer salad.

Follow this recipe and you’ll have unbelievably tender calamari rings, akin to the pickled octopus that costs a bomb in the deli.


4 x 25-30cm calamari hoods (cleaned)

6 cloves garlic (chopped finely)

1 x 8cm knob of ginger (chopped finely)

1 bunch of fresh basil (roughly chopped)

1 bunch of fresh coriander (roughly chopped)

1 small red chilli , finely chopped, or chilli flakes

1/3 cup olive oil

3 lemons (juiced)


1. Cut the hoods into rings, about 1/2cm wide. Place into 1.8L plastic container with a sealable lid.

2. Add the roughly chopped basil and coriander along with more finely chopped ginger, garlic, cloves and chilli. Pour in all of the olive oil. Do NOT add any juice from the lemons.

3. Shake the container so all the ingredients mix thoroughly. Place in the fridge for 24 hours, if possible, but two hours will suffice. If marinating overnight, the olive oil will go cloudy in the mixture, which is perfectly normal.


4. Heat a large non-stick fry pan on high.

5. Split the rings into two equal batches for cooking. If you cook them all at once they’ll get stacked on top of each other and won’t get primary contact with the fry pan.

6. Place one batch into the pan and spread out the rings to avoid stacking. Keep them moving and cook for two minutes. And I mean two minutes! Stand by the stove and don’t leave. You’re better off undercooking them if anything. They’ll also keep cooking a bit once you’ve taken them off the heat.

7. Repeat with batch two and let both batches cool for half an hour in a plastic container (do NOT use the same container). Try and include all the oil, basil, coriander, chilli, garlic and ginger you’re able to salvage from the pan.

Magic citrus

8. Once cooled, add all the juice from the lemons to the mixture.

9. Shake container to mix thoroughly and return to the fridge for 24-48 hours. When you remember, shake it up to get the juice through the whole lot.

10. To serve as an entrée or main with salad, pour a few tablespoons of juice over them on the plate.

Most people find it hard to resist hot calamari rings and have already sat down at the table by Step 8. However, this recipe requires a little self control. If you can resist eating for just one day you will soon be enjoying very tender calamari that your friends will ask for again and again.

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