I love Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side. It’s a hidden world inside what looks an old high school (or maybe a garage?), filled with treats—bakeries, cheesemongers, butchers, fruit and veggie stands and (key for this post) fish merchants. I’m currently living within walking distance, so I try to pop in on the weekends. This will change soon, as I’m tryna’ break out of my mini-East Village apartment to ford the river to Brooklyn (hopefully without getting dysentery or sinking my wagon). It’s been a happy little home, but I’m getting a new roommate soon and we don’t want to be like that Buddhist couple who committed to never being more than 15 feet apart 🙂 🙂 🙂
But the market! I went there recently to buy fresh squidlies just to compose this post for you: a tribute to a classic Madrileño sandwich, the bocadillo de calamares, and a very original new cookbook, A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches, by Chef Tyler Kord of No. 7 Sub. I love this cookbook because it’s filled with recipes that I actually want to make, largely the techniques for creating sandwich components – roasted chicken, “sort-of-Mexican” chorizo, classic sauces (General Tso’s sauce), new sauces (General Ignacio’s sauce), muchim pickled veggies, weird spreads (grape jelly mayo), and much more – that can be mixed and matched to make crush-worthy sandwiches. Plus, besides being sandwich-obsessed (like moi!) Chef Tyler has an ethos about things that speaks to me. Par example, from the intro:
I don’t think there are any two ingredients that can’t go together. Just because they come from opposite ends of the world does not mean that they will magically taste gross when combined. Nature did not try to find a way to make sure you wouldn’t put cheese on Chinese broccoli.
Kinda genius, right? Betcha never thought of that, even if in your head you may be thinking, “Sure, makes sense.”
The traditional bocadillo de calamares is a strange beast. If you spend enough time around the Plaza Mayor in Madrid (like 5 minutes), chances are you’ll spot people eating bocadillos – sandwiches made with a whole baguette cut lengthwise – out of paper bags. Chances are they’re eating a bocadillo de calamares, a big ol’ squid sandwich from one of the bars around the plaza. It’s more of a touristy thing, though Spanish people eat it too de vez en cuando. The ingredients are minimal: bread, mayo, lightly fried calamari and sometimes hot sauce. At about 3-5 euros per bocadillo, the price is right. But to be honest, the bread bomb of a sandwich never appealed to me. I need something green or some manifestation of veggie on there. So when I read Tyler Kord’s sandwich recipes, filled with all sorts of veg, way beyond romaine lettuce, I had an “ah-ha!” moment. I realized I could make my own version of the beloved bocadillo, supplemented by jazzed up veggies, herbs and a delicious spread.
That’s how the super upsetting bocadillo de calamares was born: panko-breaded, lightly fried squid, whole leaves of cilantro, crispy roasted broccoli and chipotle mayo on a fresh baguette. I’d recommend trying this for yourself, then getting Tyler’s book and finding inspiration for your own diabolical ‘wich. Cocinamos!
a super upsetting bocadillo de calamares
for the fried calamari
- 1 pound clean squid, cut (using a kitchen scissor) into rings, each about 1/2 inch thick
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup AP flour
- 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
- olive oil (for frying)
- kosher salt
- Whisk the eggs and flour together until smooth. Dip the calamari rings in the egg batter then toss in the panko, one piece at a time.
- Pour olive oil into a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat to come 1″ up the sides of the pan. When oil is hot (it just sizzle immediately if you drop in water), add calamari five or six at a time. Turn every thirty seconds and fry until golden brown. Remove to a paper-towel covered plate.
- Repeat with all calamari. Finish with kosher salt to taste.
for Tyler’s roasted broccoli
- 2 heads of broccoli
- 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Preheat the over to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
- Hold on to the floret end and peel the bottom third of the stem with a vegetable peeler. Starting from the stem end, cut 1/4 inch rounds, working your way toward the florets. Keep cutting the stem when you get to the florets so that a bunch of them fall away, until you have about 2 inces of broccoli left. Now cut away the florets to separate them and, if any of them are larger than 2 inches at their widest, cut in half. (I took some liberties with this step and let some larger florets make it to the baking sheet.)
- Toss broccoli with oil and salt and place on a baking sheet.
- Roast 15-20 minutes, until edges are caramelized.
for the sandwich
- Slice a baguette lengthwise. If it’s less than majorly fresh, toast it briefly. Coat each half with an unhealthy amount of spicy mayonnaise.
- Add a layer of cilantro leaves – clean them really well, guys. Like soak all of the leaves in a bowl of ice water, remove to another bowl, then do it again. There is NOTHING worse than gritty herbs. Nothing.
- Decorate with a layer of calamari, a layer of broccoli. Smoosh together. Buen aprovecho!
Thanks to Degustabox for sending a most tasty and spicy addition to my sandwich, Sir Kensington’s Chipotle Mayonnaise, as part of my monthly box of treats.
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