College football season started and what better culinary challenge to match it than a fancy Mario Batali fried calamari, ie Fritto Misto or mixed fried seafood.
The recipe is for 4 apetizer servings but you better be hungry if you think this will make 2 main courses. After eating everything we could and accompanying it only with a light green salad, we concluded that Batali was actually right by putting it in the antipasto section of his book. Once again, we amateurs did not outsmart the professional chef. But it was good.
Here is our modified recipe that may be a little more labor intensive but uses about half the amount of oil – hence the necessary flipping of the pieces and the numerous batches. But feel free to use 8 cups of oilve oil and do it all in 2 batches!
Use good fresh seafood and it’ll be the best fritto misto for the price you will have ever had this side of the ocean – scallops are just incredible. The fried lemons are the secret, do not omit them – remember: can’t outsmart the pro.
Except for the oil spatters, it is a lot more simple than it seems.
2-4 cups of extra virgin olive oil
1 lb fresh calamari, cleaned and drained
8 oz diver sea scallops, cut horizontally in half
4 lemons – 2 cut in slices and 2 cut into wedges to be used when serving
2 cups cornstarch
salt and freshly gound pepper
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep saucepan.
Meanwhile, put half the cornstarch in a wide, shallow bowl. Toss in half the seafood and use your hands to make sure everything is well coated. Toss into a large strainer and bat it against your hand to remove the excess cornstarch. Repeat with half of the lemon slices and the leftover 1st half of cornstarch.
Right before the oil starts to smoke, carefully drop the seafood and lemon slices into the pan. Fry for about 1 minute on each side, until golden and crispy. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels (or newspaper) to drain.
Immediately repeat with the remaining seafood and lemon slices, allowing the oil to get hot again before adding this second batch.
Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with the lemon wedges.
Paired with a 2004 Sardinian Vermentino, Argiolas. Could also be enjoyed with an Aperol Spritz, a typical northern Italian aperitive cocktail.
Picture from http://www.cornichon.org