Legendary Dishes | Kalamarákia Yemistá (squid stuffed with rice)

Sliced StuffedCalamariBade-lowres

Calamari or squid is a popular seafood throughout the Mediterranean region, especially among island food cultures, where stuffed cephalopods are part of a tradition that goes back thousands of years.

Generally calamari / squid are stuffed with rice, soft vegetables, herbs and seasonings.

Spinach was the popular accompaniment to rice until chard started to become prominent in the late 20th century. Chicory is also favoured.

Herbs play a big role in this dish, giving the fish an earthy flavour, but it is mint that provides the tangy taste to the filling.

  • 4 calamari / squid, small, approximately 150g each
  • 250 ml tomato passata
  • 125 ml water, hot
  • 100 g rice
  • 150 ml retsina / white wine
  • 30 g olive oil
  • 30 g red onions, chopped
  • 15 chard leaves, small, chopped
  • 15 chard stalks, chopped
  • 15 marjoram leaves, small, chopped
  • 10 chicory leaves, small, chopped
  • 5 sage leaves, chopped
  • 4 rosemary spears, chopped
  • 3 black mint leaves, chopped
  • Black pepper, very large pinch
  • Salt, large pinch

Wash calamari / squid, retain bodies, wings and tentacles. Each body should weigh around 90 g.

Cut wings into thin strips, set aside.

Heat oil in a saucepan, fry onions and chard stalks for five minutes over a medium heat.

Add herbs except mint, stir in and cook for two minutes.

Add chard and chicory leaves, allow to wilt.

Add rice, coat in mixture.

Pour in two tablespoons of the wine, and when the rice has absorbed this liquid add the hot water.

Reduce heat, cook until all the liquid has been absorbed. Test rice grains. If still al dente add a tablespoon of water and continue cooking.

When the rice is cooked and the mixture has absorbed all the liquid, add the mint, the pieces of squid wing and the seasoning. Leave to cool.

Each calamari/squid body should take 120 g of mixture.

With a needle and thread, sew the open end of each squid.

Pour the tomato paste and the remaining wine into a large deep frying pan, place the calamari/squid bodies in the middle of the pan. The calamari/squid should be half covered. Rinse the carton or bottle from the passata with water and add this to bring up the level of liquid.

Cook over a medium heat for 45 minutes.

With five minutes to go, turn off the heat and put the tentacles into the sauce.

Slice and serve the stuffed calamari / squid with some of the cooking sauce.

Cut the tentacles and use as a garnish for the slices.