There are a few variations on preparing calamari, but my favorite way to use an influence of Asian flavors. Using rice flour makes the batter extra crisp and slightly puffy, and this powerful salad is perfectly enhanced by a spicy and sour dressing. I hope you will enjoy preparing and serving this perfectly fresh, crisp and unique dish during one of your upcoming springtime occasions!
Yield: Four servings
SPICY SOUR DRESSING
• 1 Tbsp. grape seed or avocado oil
• 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
• 1 medium sized shallot, thinly sliced
• 1 small carrot, peeled and 1/4-inch diced
• 1/2 small red pepper, cored, seeded and 1/4-inch diced
• 1 fresh red Thai chili, stemmed, cored, seeded and 1/4-inch diced
• 2 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
• 3 1/2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
• 1 tsp. fine sea salt
• 2 Tbsp. palm sugar
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. chili oil
CRUNCHY SQUID SALAD
• 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
• 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
• 1 tsp. granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup rice flour
• 1/2 cup water
• Vegetable oil (for deep-frying)
• 12 oz. baby squid, bodies cut into 1/2-inch rings, tentacles separated
• 1 ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
• 8 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
• 1/2 cup cashew, toasted and slightly crushed
• 1 1/2 oz. ginger, finely minced
• 6 cups frisée, roughly pulled apart (can substitute salad greens)
• Salt, to taste
• Sesame seeds (for plating)
TO MAKE THE DRESSING
Heat the oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring until golden brown. Turn the heat up to medium high, and add shallots, carrots, pepper and chili, stirring until vegetables are tender.
Add lime juice, vinegar, salt and sugars. Turn heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally until the mixture is syrupy (around 15 minutes). Transfer mixture to a blender, and, while the mixture is becoming smooth, add the chili oil. Transfer to a shallow bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.
TO MAKE THE SALAD
Mix soy sauce, vinegar and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add rice flour and ¼ cup water and stir. Add additional 1/4 cup water and stir. You should have a lump-free, medium to thick consistency batter that runs from the spoon, but that’s not completely liquid, (if needed, add more water to thin).
Pour 3 inches of oil in heavy, deep sauce pan and heat to 375 degrees. Dip the squid into the batter, and then into the frying oil (do not over crowd the pan). Cook until golden brown, drain on a paper towel.
Combine papaya, water chestnuts, cashews, ginger, and frisée in large bowl mixing bowl. Season to taste with salt, and toss with dressing until well coated. Transfer to serving plate and top with fried squid and sesame seeds.
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