This crispy salad, which we discovered at Mustards Grill in Napa Valley, is a perfect example of why we love California cuisine—it's light, fresh, and loaded with flavor.
For the Slaw
- 1⁄2 small cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled, trimmed, and grated on large holes of box grater
- 4 red fresno or jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
- 2 tsp. peanut oil
- 1 tbsp. curry powder
- 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp. dijon mustard
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
For the Calamari
- Peanut oil
- 1 lb. cleaned squid (calamari), bodies cut into ¼"-thick rings, tentacles left whole
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1⁄2 cup flour
- 1⁄2 cup cornstarch
- 1⁄4 cup semolina
- 2 tbsp. cornmeal
- 3⁄4 tsp. ground cumin
- 3⁄4 tsp. salt
- 1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1⁄4 bunch arugula, trimmed
- 2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
- Sprigs from ¼ bunch cilantro
For the slaw: Combine cabbage, carrots, and three-quarters of the chiles in a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Heat peanut oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat, add curry powder, remove from heat, and set aside to cool. Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl, then drizzle in olive oil and reserved curry oil while whisking constantly. Set aside.
For the calamari: Fill a medium-deep pot with peanut oil to a depth of 2". Heat over medium-high heat until hot (375˚ on a candy thermometer). Meanwhile, combine squid and buttermilk in a medium bowl. Mix together flour, cornstarch, semolina, cornmeal, cumin, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
Drain squid, then dredge in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Working in batches, fry squid until just golden, 2–3 minutes. As it's done, transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain; season with salt.
Quickly add squid, arugula, scallions, and half the cilantro and remaining chiles to the slaw. Add dressing and gently toss to coat ingredients evenly. Adjust seasonings. Divide salad among six plates (or eight, depending on the number of diners). Garnish with remaining chiles and cilantro, and lime wedges, if you like.