AppetizerDavid Scott AllenProvencal RecipesTaste

Salt and Pepper Calamari a Spicy Appetizer

Sometimes a sampling of little bites makes for a  more interesting evening than a single main course. The Spanish have this perfected with their culinary tradition of tapas and pintxos. We decided quite a while a go to celebrate the New Year (on Paris time) and to do so by tasting our way around the world, in small bites. This year was no different, our seafood-themed menu started with skewered shrimp and ended on a high note with Salt and Pepper Calamari.

Calamari (squid) appears frequently on menus in Provence as calmar or calamar. However, like many culinary ingredients in France the name depends on size and where you are in the country.

Encornets are small calamari, and are often stuffed (farci). Here is a recipe for spinach stuffed encornets.

Chipirons are small calamari, in the Pays Basque.

Cuttlefish (related to octopus and squid) are called seiche.

Poulpe is octopus.

Confused? We found this article that explains the difference between squid and cuttlefish.

salt and pepper calamari

Salt and Pepper Calamari

This recipe was minimally adapted from Caz Hildebrand’s - The Grammar of Spice. This appetizer is easy to make and the calamari is spicy without being too heavily battered (as is often the case).
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine French
Servings 4 people


  • 6 squid tubes with tentacles, cleaned
  • 1 Meyer Lemon (for juice) or the juice of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange
  • 2-3 tablespoons Soy sauce to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Mirin
  • 1 tablespoon Oyster Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 inch piece Ginger finely grated
  • 1 teaspoon Black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan Peppercorns
  • 2-3 teaspoons Sea Salt originally called for 4 teaspoons!
  • 4 teaspoons Cornstarch
  • Neutral Oil for frying
  • 4 cups Mizuna or Arugula on four salad or dinner plates.


  • Trim the tentacles off the calamari tubes, then cut the tubes into 1/4-inch rings. Trim tentacles, keep only what is needed. Set aside.
  • Whisk together the lemon juice, soy sauce, Mirin, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar, and grated ginger. Set aside.
  • Grind the peppers in a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder. Place them in a large plastic bag and add salt and cornstarch. Shake the bag to mix the ingredients.
  • Heat 1/2-inch of oil in a large shallow skillet.
  • Add the calamari pieces to the plastic bag with the salt and pepper and shake to coat well.
  • Carefully drop the calamari pieces into to the hot oil and fry till golden. You may want to do this in batches; the calamari shouldn’t be crowded in the pot.
  • When golden, remove calamari with a slotted spoon and drain them on several layers of paper towels.
  • Toss the mizuna with half the dressing, and divide among four plates.
  • Top each salad with a quarter of the fried calamari and drizzle with the remaining dressing.
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David Scott Allen

David Scott Allen

David Scott Allen is the author, photographer, and cook behind Cocoa & Lavender, a weekly food blog based in Tucson, Arizona. Passionate about travel, he especially enjoys eating traditional foods and learning local customs, whether in the United States or around the globe.

David's first trip to France took place when he was 14, and he returned as often as possible thereafter. However, it wasn't until his 50th birthday that he finally made it south to Provence. The beauty, history, charm, warmth, cuisine, and - of course - the rosé wines captured his heart. He shares his Provençal recipes here on Perfectly Provence, and his food and wine pairings monthly on the Provence WineZine.

David is a firm believer that sharing a meal with friends around the table is one of life's greatest pleasures. And if it happens to be in Provence, all the better!

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