Squid ink adds its own distinct savoury, briny flavour, as well as quite a bit of visual drama, to this spicy aioli. You could just use rocket for the salad, but a mix of leaves with peppery and bitter notes adds a nice dimension to the dish.
2 tbsp salt flakes
1 tsp fennel seeds
1.5kg small-medium calamari, cleaned, wings left on
150g plain flour
150g fine semolina
oil for deep frying
a selection of mixed leaves or rocket, to serve
4 lemons, cheeks sliced off, to serve
For black aioli
3 tsp Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
4 (4g each) sachets squid ink
2 large egg yolks
150ml rice bran oil or other neutral oil
150ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
green Tabasco sauce
1. For the aioli, put the Dijon, garlic, paprika, squid ink and egg yolks in a food processor or blender and process until combined. Slowly add half the oil while processing. Add the vinegar, half the lemon juice and the remaining oil until you have a thick emulsion. Adjust to taste with the remaining lemon juice. Add a good shake of Tabasco, check the seasoning, and if too thick, mix in a little water.
2. For the fennel salt, finely grind the salt and fennel seeds in a mortar.
3. Slice the calamari hoods into wide tubes. Cut the tentacles in half at the base and trim to manageable lengths.
4. Heat six to seven centimetres of oil in a large pot to 180C (or use a deep fryer).
5. Mix the flour and semolina together, dredge the calamari and shake off excess - only do this immediately before frying.
6. Fry the calamari for about 2 1/2 minutes or until golden and just cooked. Do this in a couple of batches to maintain the oil temperature.
7. Drain briefly on paper towel. Serve immediately on a bed of bitter leaves with a good sprinkling of fennel salt, a dollop of black aioli and a lemon cheek.