Spicy Grilled Calamari

By • May 3, 2011 13 Comments

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Author Notes: When my sister moved away, she left me with a bunch of groceries she didn't want to throw away, including a package of frozen baby squid - which I promptly shoved in the freezer and ignored for a few months while I tried to work up the nerve to cook squid for the first time.
When I finally bit the bullet, I decided I didn't want to go the lemon/oregano/garlic/balsamic that's ubiquitous in Mediterranean restaurants, and used a smoked paprika, lemon and cumin marinade inspired by North African spices.
I'm really happy with the results - these little calamari skewers are spicy and flavourful and entirely different from any other grilled squid I've ever had. Thanks, sis. :) - Izzbell

Food52 Review: True to its name, Izzbell’s North African-inspired calamari is a bright and spicy dish that will make a great addition to your summer grilling repertoire. The recipe comes together with ease but the platter of perfectly grilled squid – served simply with sliced bread and lemon wedges – makes quite an impression. Smaller squid will work just as well if you can't find the babies—and remember, garnishing with a squeeze of lemon is key! - Annie "Smalls"Annie "Smalls"

Serves 4

  • 1 pound cleaned baby squid (tubes and tentacles)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Bamboo skewers
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish
  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne and garlic, along with zest from the lemon. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, stirring until you have a smooth, runny paste.
  2. Juice the zested lemon into a second small bowl. Spoon in 2 tbsp of the paprika paste and stir until combined. Cover and set aside.
  3. Pour the remaining paprika paste into a large zip-seal bag. Add squid, and toss to coat evenly with marinade. Seal the bag closed and transfer to the refrigerator to marinate for 30 minutes.
  4. While the squid is marinating, soak bamboo skewers in cold water to prevent them from charring, and preheat a gas or charcoal grill on high heat.
  5. After 30 minutes, remove the squid bodies and tentacles from the marinade and gently thread onto skewers (I like to use two skewers to prevent the food from spinning around, but it's not entirely necessary). Discard the marinade.
  6. Place the skewers directly onto the preheated grill, and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side or just until the squid turn opaque. Remove from squid from heat immediately, and drizzle with the lemon juice and paprika mixture.
  7. Garnish with lemon wedges. Serve with a loaf of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

More Great Recipes: Entrees|Fish & Seafood|Fish

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Comments (13) Questions (0)


3 months ago neighome

Are these good cold or room temp? I'm looking for picnic food.


over 2 years ago TheGringoChapin

Just made this and it is so good I wish I had bought twice as much calamari! May be the best calamari I have ever eaten!


about 3 years ago Joanie922

My husband likes to fish and recently caught some calamari. Not having a clue what to do with it, we tried this recipe and really loved the flavor.

We decided the marinade would also be great for shrimp.


over 3 years ago healthierkitchen

Wow! This sounds delicious. I missed this the first time around but will save for grill season.


over 3 years ago healthierkitchen

Wow! This sounds delicious. I missed this the first time around but will save for grill season.


over 4 years ago SouffleBombay

Looks fantastic!


over 4 years ago wssmom

Oh, yeah!! :)


over 4 years ago hardlikearmour

hardlikearmour is a trusted home cook.

Yummy, great seasoning blend! I can almost taste them.


over 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

this sounds great!


over 4 years ago healthierkitchen

this really does sound like a terrific way to cook squid!


over 4 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Mmmmmmmm! So glad you let them mature in the freezer for a time while you thought of just the right touch for them. So lovely!


over 4 years ago Izzbell

Ha. "Mature". It makes it sound much better... as if calamari improve with age, like a fine wine. :)
(Not that they seemed to suffer any ill-effects from sitting in the freezer so long, thankfully)


over 4 years ago gingerroot

YUM! Sounds really delicious.