It’s a shame calamari is relegated to the deep fryer most of the time. Also known as squid, protein-rich calamari boasts a sweet taste and firm texture when prepared properly (overcooked calamari is overly chewy calamari). One 3.5-ounce serving has just 92 calories, 1 gram of fat, 16 grams of protein, and 56% of your daily recommended intake for iron. It’s also brimming with calcium, dishing up 28% of your daily recommendation. Problem is, a typical serving of restaurant-prepared calamari, AKA breaded and fried, can have up to 900 calories, 20 grams of fat and almost 2,000 mg of sodium. That’s HALF of your recommended calories and fat and your ENTIRE sodium quota for the day.
Worry not – you can enjoy all the health benefits of calamari by preparing it yourself – pan-seared with a Thai-inspired sesame-soy peanut sauce. And don’t worry about searching for calamari in a store far, far away – if you can’t find it at the seafood counter, it’ll be in the frozen foods section in most grocery stores nationwide.
Pan-Seared Calamari With Spicy Peanut Sauce
Note: The calamari and sauce are excellent when served over brown rice or angel hair pasta. You can also serve the calamari and sauce with a nice hunk of whole grain bread – excellent for soaking up the extra broth.
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce, or more or less to taste
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds fresh or frozen calamari tubes and tentacles (thawed if frozen)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 green onions, chopped
In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, hot sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
Cut the calamari tubes into 1/2-inch thick rings (do not cut the tentacles). Pat the calamari dry and season with salt and pepper.
Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the calamari and cook for 1 minute. Add the peanut butter mixture and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 2 minutes, until the calamari is just opaque white (do not overcook). Using a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the calamari from the skillet (leaving the sauce in the pan) and set aside. Cover the calamari with foil to keep warm.
Simmer the sauce in the pan, over medium-high heat, for 3 to 5 more minutes, until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly, stirring constantly. Transfer the sauce to a shallow serving bowl, arrange the calamari on top and top with cilantro and green onions.
Nutrition Info Per Serving
Total Fat: 10 grams
Saturated Fat: 2 grams
Total Carbohydrate: 9 grams
Sugars: 1 gram
Protein: 30 grams
Sodium: 287 milligrams
Cholesterol: 396 milligrams
Fiber: 1 gram
Robin Miller is a nutritionist, host of Quick Fix Meals, author of “Robin Rescues Dinner” and the busy mom of two active little boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinrescuesdinner.com.