Arriving in Canada…
Last September marked 27 years since I arrived in Canada after having spent 8 years on the Island of Pico, in the Azores. I was fortunate to start building some friendships shortly after arriving. Some were at school, some at work and the most important one was meeting Liz (brownie points Liz?). haha…yes!
Friends and good eats!
Once Liz and I started dating, she introduced me to her good friend Rosanna, and her boyfriend, Aldo. One of the first restaurants that we visited together with this couple was Mamma Martino’s, in Etobicoke.
The meal was memorable because the food was homemade and delicious, the portions were generous, and the prices were fantastic. I felt like we’d traveled to some rustic little place in Italy, where Mamma was working her culinary magic (the sauce!), while the dad sat by the bar chatting with locals, overseeing the hustle and bustle of their busy little shop. Their kids were there too, serving guests and taking time for a chat with all the regulars. It wasn’t dainty or fancy– it was very unpretentious and comfortable. Just how we like it.
I’m not 100% sure, but I think this first visit may have been the first time I tried fried calamari. I’d eaten plenty of delicious grilled calamari over the years, but I’d never had it fried. I was hooked!
Fast forward 27 years…
Liz and I still love visiting Mamma’s with Rosanna and Aldo and our kids… who, by the way, also love it! Rosanna and Aldo are a very important part of our lives–they’re like family to us. In fact, it was at this restaurant that we announced Liz’s first pregnancy and asked Rosanna and Aldo to be our child’s Godparents.
Mamma Martino’s has expanded over the years, and they’re still normally bursting at the seams with full tables and people lined-up in the vestibule, waiting for a seat and some good eats. We’ve been to many incredible Italian restaurants over the years, but there’s something special and nostalgic about going to Mamma Martino’s. (And we’re not being paid to say that… we just like it… a lot)
Calamari at home
I’ve eaten fried calamari plenty of times since that first time at Mamma’s, and I’ve enjoyed many different versions of this appetizer. Now with my trusty Breville’s Smart Fryer in the kitchen (where it has made a permanent home on our countertop), I decided it was high-time to try my own version so that we could enjoy fried calamari at home.
It turned out fan-freaken-tastic! The seasoning was spot-on and the calamari came out tender and delicious. This disappeared so quickly at home. Liz decided that this is her favourite kind of ring.
Seriously, you’ve got to try this calamari recipe. Impress your family and friends with this restaurant-style appetizer. Share the yum and eat well, friends.
Tender calamari, coated with seasoned flour and deep fried to perfection. A little squirt of lemon… a little dip in a favourite sauce… and you have the perfect appetizer!
- 2 lbs 908g defrosted or fresh squid rings
- Vegetable or canola oil for deep frying
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried parsley
- 3 tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp old bay seasoning
- 1/2 tsp flaked salt
- 1 lemon cut in wedges
Pre-heat the oil (we used a deep fryer, but you can use your favourite large pot or dutch oven for frying) to 360 ºF.
Pat down the squid rings with paper towel to remove water.
In a large sealable freezer bag, toss in the flour, corn starch, oregano, parsley, salt, black pepper and old bay seasoning.
Seal the bag and toss to mix all the ingredients well.
Place about a third of the squid rings in the bag with the flour mixture and toss to coat the squid.
Shake the excess flour off the squid rings and place them in the deep fryer basket (or in the oil of vessel you’re using to deep fry).
Place the basket in the oil and fry for 1 minute and 30 seconds. Give the basket a little shake or two while the squid is frying to loosen the rings from each other.
Lift the basket and carefully turn the rings onto a paper towel-lined dish to soak up the excess oil. If you’re using a pot or dutch oven, use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the rings onto the paper towel-lined dish.
Transfer the squid rings to a serving dish and lightly season with the flaked salt, by rubbing a pinch of the salt between your fingers, evenly over the squid.
Repeat the last 5 steps until all the squid rings are fried.
Serve the fried calamari hot, with wedges of lemon and a favourite sauce or aïoli.