for the “tzatziki”
2 finely chopped small garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small cucumber
250 grams of Cypriot (or Greek style) yogurt
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
for the “calamari”
500 grams of fresh small squid
a large bowl full of All Purpose Flour
a large bowl of ice cold water (or a large bowl of milk) (see below recipe for more details)
vegetable or olive oil for frying (must be at least 1 inch deep in the pan)
salt & pepper to taste
freshly squeezed lemon juice, salt, pepper & oregano as garnish
Cucumber-Garlic-Yogurt Dip (“Tzatziki”)
1. Add the garlic to olive oil in a medium sized bowl. Note that I prefer my “tzatziki” on the “garlic-y” side, so you can choose to only add one minced garlic if you prefer, and then add more if you think it needs more of a kick later.
2. Finely grate the small cucumber. Then strain the grated cucumber for at least 15 minutes. Sprinkle a little salt on top of the grated cucumber as this will encourage excess liquid to be released.
3. Add the yogurt, cucumber, mint, lemon juice and salt and pepper to the garlic and olive oil. Mix together well. If the mixture appears runny, add a touch more yogurt.
Fried Squid (“Calamari”)
1. Prepare your squid. If you buy fresh squid from a fishmonger, ask them to prepare it for frying. They will remove the innards from the “calamari” and pull the transparent spine out from the body, and remove any beaks as well. Don’t worry, it sounds scary, but it’s not. I get very grossed out by cleaning fish, this was OK. If the tentacles are small (like in the picture) simply leave them as is. Cut the bodies into rings of about 1 inch big or leave them whole, if they are small.
2. Your “calamari” may have been sitting on ice so will be slightly wet. Place the cut pieces of “calamari” on paper towel to soak up an excess liquid for about 10 minutes.
3. Next, prepare your bowl of flour and ice cold water (or milk). Sprinkle some salt and pepper into the flour and mix together.
4. Heat the oil to a very high heat. It has to be very high for the “calamari” to cook properly.
5. Dip a piece of “calamari” into the flour and make sure it is well coated outside and inside. Then quickly dip the piece into the cold water or milk. (It makes no difference to the taste, I simply hear that if you use milk it keeps the “calamari” tender, but to be honest, the “calamari” I dipped in cold water also was tender.) Then dip the piece back into the flour and make sure it is well coated with flour.
6. Once the oil is hot, add the flour coated “calamari” one to three pieces at a time. (I added them one at a time, because I wanted to make sure that the “calamari” did not burn.)
7. They will cook extremely fast – I needed only about 1 minute per piece of small “calamari”, the larger pieces may need an extra minute. You do not want the batter to burn or for the “calamari” to be hard and chewy, hence the quick frying time and the extremely high heat.
8. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel to remove any excess oil. Then serve immediately, squeezing fresh lemon juice and sprinkling salt, pepper and dried oregano (if you like) to taste on top. (Try the fried “calamari” before adding salt, as it will already be quite salty with the batter and the fact that it is seafood!)