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Semolina Crusted Calamari With Lemon Black Pepper Aioli

Osteria: Hearty Italian Fare from Rick Tramonto's Kitchen
by Rick Tramonto & Mary Goodbody

Calamari in Semolina con Aioli di Limone
(Semolina-Crusted Calamari with Lemon-Black Pepper Aioli)
Fried calamari is about as Italian as it gets, but I have taken this to a new level by coating the squid with a cornmeal crust and serving it with aioli instead of tomato sauce. I have eaten fried calamari countless times both in Italy and in the United States, and though some has been great, I always wanted a little more crunch than I got. The cornmeal solves that problem very nicely. I use Point Judith calamari, which are cleaned and ready to go.
Serves 4



    · 1 cup homemade or high-quality store-bought mayonnaise
    · ¼ cup sour cream
    · 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    · 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
    · 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
    · 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    · Kosher salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper


    · 1 pound calamari, tubes and tentacles, cleaned and rinsed
    · 2 cups whole milk
    · Peanut oil or corn oil
    · ½ cup semolina or cornmeal
    · 2 large eggs, slightly beaten
    · 2 garlic doves, mashed
    · 1 cup panko
    · 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
    · 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    · 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    · ½ teaspoon cayenne

· 4 lemon wedges


To prepare the aioli, in a mixing bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, lemon zest, parsley, and garlic. Season to taste with salt and lots of pepper. Refrigerate until needed.

2. To prepare the calamari, cut the tubes into ¼-inch-thick rings. Transfer to a bowl and pour the milk over them. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.

3. Pour enough oil into a deep, heavy pot or Dutch oven to reach a depth of 4 inches. Heat the oil to 250° F over high heat. Use a deep-fat thermometer to determine the oil's temperature.

4. Moderate the heat to maintain the temperature. Spread the semolina in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, mix the eggs and mashed garlic. In a third shallow bowl, mix the panko, cheese, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Line up the bowls on the counter next to each other and near the stove.

5. Dredge the calamari rings in the semolina and shake off any excess. Dip next in the egg and then the panko mixture. Shake off any excess crumbs.

6. Pry a few of the calamari rings for about 1 minute, or until crispy and golden brown. Using a metal slotted spoon, lift the fried rings from the oil and drain on paper towels. Let the oil regain its temperature before frying the next batch.

7. Season the warm calamari with salt to taste.
Divide them among 4 plates and garnish each with a lemon wedge.
Serve with the aioli on the side for dipping.

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