“For me, this is best sandwich in the world, and (top tip) it’s the most incredible hangover food,” says José Pizarro in the introduction to this recipe in his new cookbook, The Spanish Home Kitchen. His sixth collection, it has more than 80 recipes drawn from across Spain.

Spanish-born Pizarro is an award-wining chef and author who lives in London and runs a number of successful tapas bars and restaurants. In the UK he’s often referred to as the godfather of Spanish cooking.

Pizarro worked in Madrid in his early twenties and says he has fond memories of partying and exploring the nightlife of Spain’s capital. He’d finish his night with a meal, often street food, and one of his favourite places to visit was the main market, El Mercado de San Miguel. “Partly because I had one of the best bocadillo de calamares of my life there. I think this recipe comes close to it,” he says.

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This beloved Madrid bar dish is one of the country’s best-known sandwiches and delivers a delightful crunch. It’s best eaten when the calamari is freshly cooked and hot.

That said, even though Pizarro doesn’t encourage you to outsource the cooking for this one, we reckon it’s not the worst if you want to hit up your local fish and chip shop for freshly cooked deep-fried calamari.

But don’t subcontract out any other tasks – the success of this sandwich comes down to getting a good-quality crunchy baguette and smearing on lots of home-made garlic-spiked aioli. You definitely don’t want the store-bought stuff here.

Deep-fried calamari sandwich
Serves 2
Preparation time: 15minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

1 litre vegetable oil or light olive oil, for deep-frying

120g plain flour

1 tsp pimentón de la Vera
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500g squid, cleaned, tentacles removed and body sliced into rings
1 crusty baguette, cut into 4 pieces, each one halved

1 free-range egg yolk

1 garlic clove, crushed

Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
1 tsp white-wine or apple-cider vinegar
Pinch of sea salt

150ml olive oil
Lemon juice, to taste

Begin by making the aioli. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, garlic, lemon zest and vinegar. Season with a good pinch of sea salt. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly, until you have a thick, luscious aioli. Add lemon juice to taste and set aside.

To prepare the calamari, pour the oil into a large saucepan (you want it to be half full). Heat to 190°C, or until a cube of bread browns in 20 seconds. While the oil is heating, mix together the flour and pimentón in a large bowl and season with plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the squid and toss until well coated in the seasoned flour.

Working in batches, fry the squid for around 3 minutes, or until golden and crunchy, then remove from the oil and set aside to drain on a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt as soon as you remove it from the oil, then continue with the next batch. Lightly toast the baguette slices, then assemble the sandwiches by spreading the aioli over four of the slices, then adding the fried calamari. Top each one with the remaining baguette slices and enjoy.

This is an edited extract from The Spanish Home Kitchen by José Pizarro, published by Hardie Grant Books, $55.00. Buy it here.

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