Calamaretti in umido (tomato)

calamaretti in umido

Accra is by the sea, the Gulf of Guinea. Still, getting fresh seafood can be a challenge. A neighbour kindly led an expedition to Tema Fish Market, to get big prawns, and we bought some small calamari as well. Tema is about 30 km away, down the highway, which is a pretty smooth drive. There are traffic slowdowns here and there, with street vendors and hawkers selling things to the cares waiting in traffic: snacks, water sachets, bananas, rubber balls, bathroom scales, religious books, phone cards, towels, sunglasses….  Time also to look at the herd of cows calmly crossing the opposite lane to graze in the middle of the road.

cows on road on the way to Tema We did get there eventually, and bought small calamari (calamaretti)  which were part of Sunday lunch.

Calamaretti in umido (tomato stew)

2 tsp olive oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 large tin tomatoes (750 grammes or so)
pinch of salt, pepper, sugar
a bit of dried parsley and fresh basil
3 tsp tomato paste
1 tsp white vinegar

1 kilo calamaretti (small calamari, cleaned)


Heat the oil, and gently fry the garlic until slightly soft. Tip in the tomatoes: I used a tin of whole peeled tomatoes, and cut them up them with scissors. Season with a little salt, pepper and sugar, plus parsley and basil (as you prefer). Normally I would add a splash of white wine, we always have some leftover wine ice cubes for cooking, but as one of the lunch party is Muslim, I skipped that.  Just a splash of vinegar. Let the tomato sauce slowly cook for at least half an hour, so the flavours come together, then taste. I then added a bit more salt and tomato paste.

Voila! Serve with crusty bread, or polenta, or rice. Rice is very un-Italian, but was requested, and soaks up the tomato nicely. 

Our neighbour also did some lovely deep-fried calamaretti, soaked first in milk for 20 min or so to soften the proteins. Tip from his restaurant back home, it was certainly very good. Then dipped in flour with a bit of salt and pepper, and deep-fried in another neighbours fryer. VERY light and tasty!

calamaretti fritti


3 thoughts on “Calamaretti in umido (tomato)

  1. GoodDayRome

    I’m inspired! Do you add the calamaretti at the same time as the tomatoes? Do they need to cook thirty minutes? Not sure if they’d be tougher or more tender cooked that long.

    1. krumkaker Post author

      Good question! Calamari so easily goes from nicely tender to bits of rubber, I was worried about that. Normally I’d cook the sauce first, then drop them in at the very end for a very short cook-through. But here, lunch was unexpectedly delayed and I had already checked them in, so they simmered for half an hour. Then the pot sat for half an hour. I was sure they’d be tough and chewy, but they were great. However, I think cooking them shorter would work fine as well (I would normally do that) – maybe these went tender-rubber-tender again? Next time I might also try soaking the calamaretti in milk first, as that is meant to keep them tender. Good luck!


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