Although calamari can be fished all year around, they are harder to catch during warmer months. But as the sea gets colder, calamari tends to come very close to the shore. This is the reason why winter, particularly period from November to February, is the best time to fish squids in the Adriatic.
I don’t think there is another sea creature that is more popular among amateur fishermen. It seems to me that almost everybody specialized in fishing calamari, including my mother in law. Yes, even my mother in law goes out every night and catches a fair amount of calamari. She freezes them, and waits for Christmas, when all of us come to visit her, to prepare them. Adriatic calamari is tender, sweet and absolutely delicious.
My three favorite ways to prepare squids.
1. Grilled calamari
This is the classic! And the most common way to prepare calamari. You simply put them on grill, sprinkle with olive oil and grill on both sides. When done, add more olive oil. In Croatia they always serve a mixture of olive oil, parsley and garlic to sprinkle over your grilled seafood if you wish.
Note: Croatians don’t clean the outer membrane-type skin of the squid. Calamari remains pinkish when done.
Note 2: Croatians eat entire body of the squid; including the head, fins and tentacles.
2. Stuffed calamari
Stuffed calamari is yummy! You can stuff them many ways, but I love the most the way my family prepares them. Once cleaned, large squids are stuffed with finely chopped calamari’s tentacles, and head, garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs. They are then slowly cooked with garlic, parsley olive oil, and tomato sauce. Served with polenta, they are absolutely yummy.
3. Calamari and fennel salad
This recipe sounds way less exciting than it tastes. I’ve tasted this salad in one Istrian restaurant back in August and it made it immediately to the list of my favorite dishes. Both, calamari and fennel are sliced and then stir-fried. Sprinkled with olive oil and a touch of tomato sauce before serving, this salad is very simple to make, yet very tasty.
And then there is more…
Squids are especially popular in northwest Istria. In fact so popular that the region celebrates this awesome seafood with a Days of Adriatic Squids festival.
Selected local restaurants, for entire December, offer a full-course menus based on squids. Prices are affordable, squids are fresh and locally sourced, and each dish is paired with local wine and olive oil. What’s not to like here?!
Book yourself a table!