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What’s cooking today: Calamari steaks on the braai

What’s cooking today: Calamari steaks on the braai
Tony Jackman’s braaied calamari steaks. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

This is one slow way of cooking calamari. For it to be tender, it needs half an hour on moderate coals.

Calamari is always challenging. Too fast and it’s not cooked through. Temperature too low? It comes out pallid and rubbery. Too high? Nicely browned but potentially overdone. Too high AND too slow almost certainly guarantees you rubbery calamari.

I prefer to shallow fry calamari strips and recently I did them the slow way in a stew. Then, I decided to cook calamari steaks whole on the coals. They turned out well; juicy and tender. But this was after a full 30 minutes of cooking so that it first toughens and then slowly turns tender.

But first, what is a calamari steak? Many people think that it surely must be minced calamari meat that has been formed into steaks through some or other devious mechanical method. Maybe such a thing does exist, but certainly the “steaks” I buy from the frozen section of the supermarket are the real thing.

Take them in your hands and feel them and you’ll find that they are a tad uneven despite their apparent uniformity. Some narrow at one end. All they are is a calamari tube that has been slit at one point and then folded out into a “steak”.

And it has to be scored if you’re to be able to cook it flat. Just score one side with a light touch using a very sharp knife.

I marinated them in a hot concoction and then made a dressing for them so that, once off the grill, they could be doused in it and served immediately.

(Serves 4)

Ingredients

4 calamari steaks, rinsed and patted dry

2 Tbsp Tabasco sriracha

1 Tbsp chilli oil

1 tsp crushed dried garlic

Juice of 2 limes

For the dressing:

1 Tbsp chilli oil

1 Tbsp Prosecco vinegar

1 tsp dried crushed garlic

Salt and black pepper to taste

Method

Score one side into a diamond pattern.

Hours before you cook, mix the marinade ingredients and marinate the calamari steaks in it in the fridge.

Prepare lots of coals.

First cook for 5 minutes on one side on very hot coals.

Then move the grid higher up, scrape the coals to the sides, and cook for another 25 minutes on low coals, turning now and then.

Douse them in the dressing and serve. DM/TGIFood

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks.

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