Calamari cocktail
  |  First Published: November 2004

When preparing seafood it’s possible to get a couple of meal options out of the one type of seafood. For example, when cooking green prawns you can use the shells to prepare a seafood stock for future use or filleting fish, and use the head for a delicious Asian-style soup.

Another adaptable type of seafood is squid. Just the other day I arrived home to be presented with one very large calamari and, while the hood of the squid wasn’t quite enough for a meal, when I added the tentacles to the equation we ended up with a delicious calamari cocktail.

Stuffed Calamari

After you’ve cleaned the calamari, reserve the tentacles and the hood. This first recipe is for the hood of the calamari.


1-2 large calamari hoods

100g crab meat (or chopped green prawns)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

100g ricotta cheese

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon butter

1 clove garlic, finely grated

2 cups tomato passata

splash white wine

1/2 cup cream

2-3 leaves fresh basil, shredded (optional)


• In a large bowl, combine the crab meat, ricotta, parsley and egg. Carefully fill the calamari hoods with the crab/ricotta mixture. Don’t overfill the calamari or the hood could split while cooking. Secure the ends of the calamari hood with a couple of wooden toothpicks.

• Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat and add the garlic to the pan. Stirfry for a couple of minutes until the garlic is aromatic. Add the stuffed calamari to the pan and turn until it is a golden brown on all sides.

• Splash the white wine into the pan with the tomato passata (readily available in most supermarkets) and basil leaves. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes or until the calamari is tender. Remove the calamari from the pan.

• Slice the hoods through carefully and place onto a serving dish. Add the cream to the liquid in the pan and stir through. Pour the creamy tomato sauce over the calamari slices and serve with the crispy coated calamari tentacles.

Crispy Coated Calamari Tentacles

Depending on the size and the thickness of the tentacles, you may prefer to cut them into smaller pieces.


Milk, for soaking

1/2 cup flour

1 egg, beaten lightly

1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs

1/2 cup cornmeal (or polenta)

1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

vegetable oil, for frying


• Soak and coat the tentacles before preparing the stuffed calamari. Cook the crispy coated calamari just at the end of the cooking time for the stuffed calamari. That way, everything will be ready at the same time.

• Soak the tentacles in the milk for about 30 minutes, to tenderise them.

• Combine the dried breadcrumbs, cornmeal and parsley flakes in a bowl. When you are ready to cook, remove the calamari from the milk and pat dry with some paper towels. Dredge the tentacles in the flour, dip into the beaten egg and coat with the breadcrumb mixture. Allow the coated calamari to stand for a few minutes to firm up the coating.

• Heat the vegetable oil in a frypan until hot. Add the coated calamari tentacles and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and drain on some paper towel. Serve with slices of stuffed calamari for a delicious calamari cocktail.

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