Cajun spice? Good. Calamari? Good. Caesar dressing? Good. Candied Pecans? Good. Put it all together and you get something amazing! I first had something like this at Budd Bay Cafe in Olympia, WA. It was crazy good; so good in fact, I never get anything else. When I saw that Olympia Seafood Co‘s special this week was Calamari, I knew what I was going to try to make!
I absolutely love calamari and I’ve never tried to work with it on my own. I was very excited to try. It can be tricky to work with. Cook it too much and it’ll get chewy. I don’t use a deep fryer, just a tall pan, I think that helps with something like this. You get a bit better control of your temperature. It’s also useful to have two sets of hands in the kitchen (though not required). One to bread, one to watch as it fries. You could always prep everything ahead of time and then fry if you don’t have the option of a second set of hands.
Not only did Olympia Seafood Co have a great price, they also had “calamari fries.” Basically it was just calamari steaks cut into strips that looked like fries. I thought they were neat, so I grabbed some of them to go along with the normal rounds. We came up with our own breading mixture/technique but we just utilized an internet search for how to make the dressing/candy the pecans.
Jess took on the dressing and pecans. I took on the calamari. Seriously, make this one some time. You won’t regret it. The flavor combination is just fantastic.
(Note – Make this a day or two ahead of time. I’ve also linked to the mayonnaise recipe Jess used. Do yourself a favor and make it from scratch too, it tastes 100% better that way!)
Jess looked around and came across this recipe, she liked it the best – Big John’s Killer Caesar Salad Dressing
- 1 cup Mayonnaise
- 1 large Egg
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 tablespoons Water
- 2 tablespoons Olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Anchovy paste
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons Sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, coarsely ground
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Parsley, freeze-dried and crushed
- Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl
- Whisk for 1 minute
- Cover and refrigerate over night
(Note: these are easy to burn, so be careful! They are also addictive!)
Again, Jess looked around and decided on this recipe – MAG’s Extra Special Extra Delicious Candied Pecans. She made a few modifications, marked below with an asterisk.
- 1 teaspoon cold Water
- 1 egg White
- 1 tbsp. Maple Syrup*
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar*
- 1/2 cup White Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper*
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 lb halves Pecans
- Preheat oven to 225
- Mix water, maple syrup, and egg white and whisk together
- Mix with pecans
- Mix together sugars, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt
- Mix with pecans
- Spread on cookie sheet
- Bake for 45 minutes at 225 stirring occasionally
- Increase temp to 275 and continue baking for 15 minutes
- Let them cool
If you make a partial batch, make sure to decrease the baking time.
(Note: amounts here are for 1 pound of calamari. I have a fantastic recipe for Cajun spices. I’ll put it up here when I post about Jambalaya some day! If you want it early, get in touch with me and I’ll do my best to get it to you.)
- 1 lb. of Calamari
- 1/2 cup Corn Starch
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup Graham Cracker crumbs
- 1 large Egg
- 1/2 cup Milk
- 2 large spoons of Cajun Spices (a bit more than 1 tablespoon each)
- Oil for frying
- Fill a high wall frying pan with around three to four inches of oil and start heating to around 350 degrees
- Prep calamari by cutting into rounds (if needed) and rinse
- Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix
- Mix egg and milk in another bowl
- Dip calamari into the egg/milk mixture, coat with breading mix, place in oil and fry for up to 60 seconds
- Pull them out with a slotted or mesh spoon and place onto paper towels, allow them to drain
(Note: Don’t just go buy some made up bag, this is the easy part!)
- Caesar Dressing
- Candied Pecans
- Cajun Calamari
- 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan Cheese
- 1 head Romaine, rinsed and ripped up
- Place all in a bowl and mix to your hearts content!
- Alternatively, set it all out in bowls and make people put it together on their own–this is my preferred choice so that people can make it to their liking, I prefer to be lighter on the dressing than most.
That’s it! Lots of moving parts on this one but it’s OH-so worth it!
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