Cooking Your Catch: Sweet & Spicy Calamari

Early May typically marks the arrival of squid in the coastal waters of southern New England, and that means fresh calamari is on the menu. One of the best calamari dishes we’ve sampled in our travels is the Spicy Asian version served at The Surf Hotel on Block Island. It’s so delicious (and plentiful) that folks come from all over to the island just to get a taste!

To find out how it’s made, we caught up with head chef James Bjurmin, who explained that he came up with the recipe while working under Tony Biagetti at the Hob Nob in Naples, Florida.

“In Rhode Island, everyone prepares calamari the same way—deep-fried and served with banana peppers,” he explains. “In Florida, I was introduced to Mae Ploy brand sweet chili sauce, which I like with pretty much everything. So I decided to apply it to the traditional fried calamari back in Rhode Island. It proved to be a hit!”

Before moving ahead, Bjurmin stipulates that the key to his recipe is a deep-fryer in which to cook the battered squid. If you have access to one, you are good to go. Otherwise, you’ll need to plan a trip to Block Island—which isn’t such a bad deal!

Here’s how Bjurmin makes his spicy Asian calamari.

The Surf Hotel, Block Island

INGREDIENTS
(Serves 4-6)

Tempura coating:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup corn starch
1 tbsp. salt

Tempura batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. corn starch
1 ½ cup seltzer water
pinch of salt
One pound calamari cut into rings
(keep the tentacles if you’re feeling adventurous)
mango
scallions
cilantro
one bottle Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce

Cooking Instructions

Dry squid with paper towel, coat in tempura coating then soak in tempura batter.

Heat oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cook squid approximately one minute, or until rings start to rise to the surface.

Place fried squid on large platter and cover with Mae Ploy sweet chili sauce thinned with a small amount of water and lime juice (zest 2 limes into sauce).

Garnish with mangoes, cilantro and scallions.