Dan Rinaldi, a longtime Providence firefighter, leaned on Rhode Island’s fresh seafood for this dish. He says battered squid tossed with hot cherry peppers is a great representation of where he lives and of his Italian roots. He says his family has been making this recipe for generations.
RHODE ISLAND-STYLE FRIED CALAMARI
3 pounds large squid, cleaned, tubes sliced into 1-inch pieces and tentacles left whole
4 cups buttermilk
Vegetable oil, for deep frying
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons salted butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (16-ounce) jar sliced banana peppers, drained
1 (16-ounce) jar sliced hot cherry peppers, drained and 1½ tablespoons juice reserved
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups all-purpose batter mix, such as Fis-Chic
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
3 lemons, cut into wedges (see note)
1 (1-pound) package mesclun mix
In a large bowl, soak the squid in the buttermilk for 20 minutes.
Pour the vegetable oil into a deep fryer or large, heavy-bottomed pot and heat to 375 degrees F.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and cook until just browned, then add the banana peppers, cherry peppers, reserved pepper juice, and garlic powder and cook just until heated through. Set aside.
Put the batter mix in a large bowl. Drain the squid and coat it in the batter mix.
Working in batches as necessary, add the squid to the hot oil and fry for 3 minutes, seasoning with the black pepper while it fries.
Transfer the calamari to paper towels, season with the salt, and let drain for 1 minute, then transfer to a large bowl. When all the calamari is done, quickly toss with the pepper mixture.
Pour the calamari and peppers onto a platter, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with lemon wedges and mesclun mix.
Note: Instead of cutting the lemon into wedges, you can make 45-degree cuts all around each lemon to cut it in half, then dip the lemon halves into the parsley.