Salt and Pepper Calamari – P.F. Chang’s Recipe

Tender Calamari is Possible!

For most people, making tender Calamari is no easy chore.  Even restaurants struggle with it.  The reason is because of the cut they are using.  When you get it in rings, it’s slices of the body on those six inch squid, so it tends to be very chewy.  When you get all eight of the legs and tentacles, you are just getting the lower half of the same squid.  Understand?  Top and Bottom.  No matter what you do, Cooking Calamari like this isn’t ever going to make it any less chewy, and tenderizing them with a mallet is just ridiculous.  So you need another solution, and here it is; Calamari Steaks!IMG_0259

Thumb Smith's Food and DrugThis isn’t just a good alternative; it’s the best way to turn out Tender Calamari.  It’s not chewy this way at all.  It’s soft yet Crispy and very flavorful.  In fact I can eat an entire plate of it cooked this way, and you will to if you haven’t already.  Oh, and if you can’t find it at your local grocery or seafood market, tell them to order it for you.  How do you think I got these?  Smith’s Food and Drug just pitches me a phone call when ever anything I ask them to order arrives.  No extra cost to me, and they get exactly what I want, when I want it.  It’s sweet!

Anyway, the Salt and Pepper Calamari recipe can be found at various restaurants around the globe.  I think the most popular menus include P.F. Chang’s Salt and Pepper Calamari (my personal favorite), and Typhoon’s, which I don’t like at all.  So today I’m going to model P.F. Chang’s.  If you’ve ever had their recipe, you know it’s to die for.  So let’s dive right in to this Tender Calamari recipe and get started.

Tender Calamari Ingredients:Calamari Sauce Ingredients

2-4 Calamari Steaks Thawed and sliced
1-2 Green Onions thinly sliced
2 Pinches of Margarita Salt and Pepper

Marinade:

1 egg white
2 tbsp canola oil (any oil is fine)
1 pinch of Garlic Powder
1 pinch of Ginger Powder (Curry powder isn’t bad either)
½ tsp Soy Sauce
½ cup of Corn Starch

Calamari Dipping Sauce:

1 pt Hoisin Sauce
½ pt Black Bean Garlic Sauce (or Bean Curd)
1 pt Orange Chili Sauce
You can also add a little bit of sugar soy and vinegar if you’d like.

After ½ hour of marinating the Tender Calamari, dredge the slices through Potato starch, or corn starch until it is evenly coated, then fry at 375 degrees for 1 ½ minutes.  Be sure to separate Calamari slices with a spider or a slotted spoon while frying.  Then toss the Tender Calamari in a bowl with Slices of Green Onion and season with Salt and Pepper to your taste.

Tender Calamari
See larger image

Additional Images:Tender Calamari
Tender Calamari
Tender Calamari

Chow Mein, Lo Mein and more Chow Mein

Lo Mein/Chow MeinSo many Choices

Do you know the difference between Lo Mein and Chow Mein?  What about the difference between Chow Mein and Chow Mein? Ah, you didn’t know there are two different kinds of Chow Mein?  If you do that’s great, but most people don’t.  I didn’t.  Well at least at the time I was ordering it from a menu and got something I thought was entirely different and not what I was expecting at all.  That experience was years ago but it was the day that I learned the difference between Eastern and Western Chow Mein.

Eastern Chow Mein is what I got when I was expecting something different.  Apparently Western Chow Mein is what I was expecting and if that’s what I wanted from a place that serves the “Eastern” version of Chow Mein, rather, I should have ordered Lo Mein and it would’ve been the same thing.  Are you confused yet?

Western Chow Mein and Lo Mein recipes are virtually the same thing; lots of oily soft noodles with minimal vegetables.  Eastern Chow Mein is practically the opposite with a few variances, but basically lots of vegetables and minimal crispy noodles.  Western Chow Mein is my favorite, though I’ve come to love the Eastern version and often crave that recipe from time to time.  Lo Mein, or rather, Western Chow Mein is what I’ll be focusing on in this recipe.

TopRamen_ChickenNoodles, Noodles, Lo Mein Noodles

Never use Spaghetti noodles unless you want to fit in with all of the other yahoo’s out there that really don’t know what they’re doing.  You may not know either, but with this Lo Mein/Chow Mein recipe, you’ll be able to wing it like the pros and no one will be able to tell the difference.  You can, however, pull this off with Angel Hair Pasta, but I’m still not recommending an Italian noodle for a Chinese dish.  If you can pick up a soft noodle, something doughy or already cooked near the Tofu and egg roll wrappers in your grocery store, then that’s as good as it’s going to get, unless you make your own.  Though today, I’m going to show you how to do this with an all time very inexpensive favorite of mine, Ramen!  Nissin Top Ramen is what I’m using, with the chicken flavored seasoning packet.  You can literally use any flavor you prefer, but most Restaurants use a chicken or vegetable stock in their kitchen.  So trust me with this one because you’re going to need the broth even after you cook your noodles.

Cook The Noodles Al Dente.  This just means that you need to slightly under cook the noodles.  The reason for this is because they need to be cooked a second time when they are tossed with the vegetables, and this will keep them from getting over cooked and sticky.  Another important tip you need to know is the oil.  I have found that Peanut oil gives a more professional taste to the flavor of the noodles.  Don’t ask me why, because Chinese Restaurants will use Canola and even Soy Bean oil for their noodles, but I just don’t think they bring out that delicious fast food street vendor style of Lo Mein we’ve all grown to love.  For all I know, peanut oil is what the street vendors use.  I can’t be certain but it sure tastes right!

Ingredients:

1 pkg Noodles
4 ounces of Broth from the Noodle bouillon
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Hoisin or Oyster Sauce
1/3 cup Peanut Oil
1 chopped Garlic Clove
1 1/2 Mixed Vegetables

Vegetables should include Cabbage, Onion and Carrot at a minimum, but can also contain Mushroom, Celery and Bean Sprouts.  Feel free to add any precooked meats like, Shrimp, Chicken or Beef.  Rob the 4 ounces of Broth from the Noodle bouillon and mix the sugar and your choice of Hoisin or Oyster to make the Secret Sauce.  Both are good but add a completely different taste so just choose your favorite.  Cook the noodles Al Dente and strain, then cook the vegetables in the peanut oil and garlic for 30 seconds, add the noodles and toss, then poor the “Secret Sauce” into the noodles and stir until the coloring is even through out the noodles.  The whole cooking process, tossing the vegetables and then combining with the noodles, shouldn’t take you more than 1 full minute to complete.  Serve the Lo Mein Family Style, on one plate, then dish out separately.

Fried Crisp Bean Burritos

4 Crisp Bean Burritos - Poor Man's Gourmet Kitchen

I Love These Crisp Bean Burritos

Crisp Bean Burritos are the best when I feel like I’m starving.  I use to get these from a copy cat version of Taco Time that only charged 79 cents a piece.  So I’d hit the drive through after a hard days slavin’ at work and pick up a 6 pack of Crisp Bean Burritos.  I’d usually make it through 3 and sometimes 4 before I had to give up and store the rest away.  But, you know just as well as I do, we always get hungry again.

So if you’ve got some Refried Beans and at least a half decent Tortilla, we are well on our way.  I recommend 2 pieces of advice that will ultimately up the quality of the Crisp Bean Burritos with no extra cost to you.

IMG_02631) Use dehydrated Refried Beans and a fresh batch of tortillas.
2) Cook the refried Beans with a piece of Bacon.

Be Sure to let the beans cool before you load your tortillas.  You need the beans to be thick so they don’t bleed out in the Fryer. Oil temperature should be 375 degrees and the Crisp Beans should be fried until they are golden brown(2 to 3 min).

Crisp Bean Burritos Ingredients:

Bacon
Refried Beans
Scallions
Tortillas
Oil

1) Cook Bacon in the bottom of a pan then add your Refried Beans with Scallions.
2) Wait 10 minutes to cool, then add desired amount to each tortilla.
3) Roll and pin the last tortilla flap with a tooth pick.
4) Fry at 375 degrees until golden brown.
5) Enjoy your Crisp Bean Burritos.