Lovely Gaeta! We stayed in this beautiful little coast town between Rome and Naples a few days in October. Copenhagen was already preparing for winter but here we still had 28-30 degrees which is more than a normal summer day in Denmark. We stayed with our local friends and one afternoon we went to see the fisher boats coming into the small harbour. We had planned stuffed calamari for dinner and we set out to see the boats coming in, unloading their boxes of already sorted fish to smaller boats which then again broad the boxes to the shore.
From there you could either buy a whole box or wait until the fish would have been transported a little further down the road to auctioning and the go to the seafood store of your personal trust and purchase just for the next meal. We chose the latter.
So while the fishermen were reloading the boats with ice and were preparing again for the next day we enjoyed the evening sun and waited for our fish stall owner to drive his goods home on his three-wheeled bicycle.
When we came to his street stand later, he cleaned the calamari for us and put an extra two in the bag after weighing when his wife was not looking, what a sweetheart! At home we only had to remove the glass like backbone in the calamari and the the cooking started.
We made a filling of breadcrumbs, parsley and heaps of garlic and the chopped pieces of the tentacles which we had removed.
We stuffed the calamari with the bread filling and fried them with olive oil and onions in a large pan. There is no need to close the calamari with a toothpick because once they are exposed to the heat the water in the fish evaporates and they contract around the filling.
We filled up the pan with homemade tomato sauce from the vegetable lady across the alley and let it all come together while we heated the water for la pasta.
We had the pasta as primo with the tomato sauce and the calamari were served as secondo seperately. As a “secondo secondo” we had the remaining tentacles deep fried, just to finish off. Wonderful!
Upon coming home the calamari at my local market just did not look as intriguing. I have not seen them arrive directly from the fisher boat… So I will probaly wait another year before I have this dish again: when I return to Gaeta! I cannot wait!