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Fried calamari with romesco sauce. (Credit: John Ross)
Fried calamari with romesco sauce. (Credit: John Ross)

The following was excerpted from John Ross’ column in this week’s issue of The Suffolk Times. Subscribers can read the entire column, which includes one more recipe at

If you buy fresh calamari you will have to clean them. This requires separating the head and tentacles from the body by pulling them out. You then need to remove the pen and discard it. Cut the head off and discard along with the skin and fins. It is simple and requires only a few minutes. Rinse the tubes and tentacles and set aside.

Clean 2 pounds of fresh calamari and place in a bowl. Add 1 cup buttermilk and 2 tablespoons minced garlic and refrigerate for 2 hours.

For the breading, combine 3 cups Wondra flour with 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 tablespoons smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon coarse salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat about 3 cups canola oil in a heavy pan for the frying (or use a deep fryer if you have one).

Romesco Sauce: Drain a small jar of roasted red peppers and place them in a food processor. Process until smooth and scrape into a small saucepan. Bring the purée to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken.

Meanwhile, add 1/2 cup olive oil to another small pan along with 6 peeled cloves of garlic. Let the oil and garlic cook for about 5 minutes at medium heat before adding 1/2 cup of cubed French bread. Cook another 2 minutes and add both the pepper purée and the oil mixture to the food processor. Puree until chunky and add 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts and 1 teaspoon smoked paprika. When almost smooth, add 1/4 cup sherry vinegar and a teaspoon salt. Purée until smooth and remove.

At service time, drain the calamari through a colander and dredge pieces in the flour mixture. Drop each piece separately into the hot oil and fry until crisp, about 2 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Serve the calamari with lemons and the romesco sauce on the side.

Serves 4-6

This recipe was adapted from Aliza Green’s excellent book “Starting With Ingredients.

John Ross, a chef and author, has been an active part of the North Fork food and wine community for more than 35 years. [email protected]