I have found that if you call calamari “squid,” no one will eat it. An absolute mystery to me: I like the word “squid.” In Australia when I was a child, they called rabbit “bush chicken” so that people would eat it, yet no one in America I have met has a problem with eating rabbit. Fortunately, squid is so wonderful and there are so many ways to prepare it and it is so inexpensive, I do not mind calling it calamari if that is what it takes for people to eat it. I love the version with tomatoes, garlic, basil, and lots of butter. It is great with Chinese black beans, ginger, and garlic; it is surprisingly good cooked for a long time in red wine with leeks; but it has a special affinity with chilies, dried or fresh. This recipe could very well have an ancho chili mayonnaise or butter sauce drizzled over, or sour cream with the terrifying but superb smoked chilies called chipotles.
Cut the tentacles away from the head of each squid just below the eyes; remove the “beak.” Rinse, drain, and reserve the tentacles. Pull out all the innards and the translucent membrane in the body of each squid. Rinse under cold water and drain; cut crosswise into ½-inch-wide slices.
Cut the stems from the chilies and pepper, seed them, and cut into long thin slices.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan over high heat until the oil is very hot but not smoking, about 30 seconds. Season the squid slices and tentacles, put them in the pan, and toss them in the hot oil over high heat for 2 minutes. Lift all the squid out with a skimmer or slotted spoon and put it in a bowl. Turn down the heat to medium and put in the chilies, pepper, garlic, and ginger and cook for 5 minutes. Add the fish stock and any juices that have collected from the squid to the pan. Cook over high heat for 2 minutes. Add the butter and squid and toss together until the butter is incorporated. Check for seasoning and serve.
© 1986 Jeremiah Tower. All rights reserved.