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Calamari and zest

June 3, 2010

goat milk soak

I don’t have much to post about catching squid this spring. I squid from shore. Just as I fish for stripers from the sand or the dock; the rocks or the peat, I cast my squid jigs from docks and bridges into inshore estuaries. When they don’t swarm in, I don’t catch many, and that was the case this year.

Luckily, I’m flush with fishermen friends and neighbors. One such gem offered me some of his catch, and I, naturally, went nuts – on the inside. I wish I could have given him some striped bass in return, but he is simply swimming in fish. Maybe one of the chickens I butchered on Memorial Day will be a better reply.

I won’t go into cleaning or frying the calamari. I posted my take on that here. But I will tell you that there is nothing like soaking sliced rings and tentacles of local squid in day-fresh goat’s milk from your own back yard. And while we’re at it, go ahead and make the cocktail sauce from your very own horseradish. It grows well in these parts, which probably explains its inclusion in so many New England dishes. I would grow its cousin, wasabi mustard plants, if I could, as the freshly shaved is far better on home-made sushi than that green stuff from a tube, but, from what I understand, one needs a cold, clear stream running over the plants. When I figure that out, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, homegrown horseradish is easy and simple, and it is a perfect partner for fried calamari. The plant is somewhat aggressive in its growth, so plant the roots out of the way, where it won’t threaten the strawberries or muscle in on the hops. Roots are available this time of year at local garden centers and they’re cheap, so what do you have to lose?

spring sacrifice

I’m not going to post a cocktail sauce recipe, because it will take a while for your plants to grow, and by that time you will have found plenty of recipes for the wizened-looking roots. I will, however, offer you an alternative to fried squid. This marinara rates a close second, and after one night of fried fare, I’m ready for a different preparation. I hope your basil is big enough to spare some leaves for this decadent concoction.

Bow tie pasta delights children almost as much as tentacles

Adapted from what continues to be my favorite local cookbook, Gillian Drake’s Cape Cod Fish and Seafood Cookbook. It serves two in my household. Serve it over pasta.

*1 lb pasta, preferably linguine

* 1 lb. squid, cleaned and cut into rings, with tentacles halved
* 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
* a pinch of oregano, crumbled, or a tablespoon of fresh, minced leaves
* a handful of fresh basil, torn up
* white pepper to taste (or black if you like)
* 1 big clove of garlic, or several smaller cloves, crushed or minced
* 1 cup your favorite marinara sauce

Start a large pot of salted water and cook the pasta until al dente. You can start the squid after you begin to cook the pasta.
Pour the heavy cream into a saute pan with the oregano, basil, pepper, and garlic. Heat over medium flame, stirring constantly, to reduce the cream until it turns light yellow and thickens. Stir in marinara sauce and squid.
Heat over medium until the squid is just cooked, at MOST 4 minutes. Taste test the squid as you go to make sure it stays tender and doesn’t get over cooked.
Remove from heat immediately and serve over pasta.

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