Stéphane’s Calamari in Red Sauce


When I first met Stéphane, it was April of 2014. My daughter and I visited him for an action-packed four days in southwestern France.

If you’re not familiar with Stéphane Gabart, he is the author of My French Heaven, the beautiful blog that emanates his love for all things food, wine, and France. You immediately grasp his passion and joie de vivre through his stunning photography.

His business, which he has secretly told me is more fun than work, is called Your French Heaven, because one can basically customize a visit. In our case, my daughter and I went mostly, not surprisingly, for the food experience.

We visited a different farmers’ market every day, so that he could cook fabulous meals for us. Can you imagine! Four farmers’ markets in close proximity to your home?!! Not to mention bakeries and patisseries!

Because my daughter is a pescatarian, we ate a lot of seafood, which was wonderful!

Of course Stéphane also had the perfect wines, champagnes, Lillet, and Sauternes.

And bread and cheese, of course.

I’d include photos of the countryside we visited, along with castles, villages, fortresses, vineyards, and even a brocante, because we did do much more than eat, but I need to keep this post about Stéphane and the calamari he prepared one evening for my daughter and I. These are photos from that visit. I’ve never had calamari quite like it.

It’s calamari rings, sautéed, flambéed, then cooked in a red sauce until the sauce is deep and rich. The sunshine beaming down on the calamari just make them glow!

Here’s the recipe, as generously emailed to me by Stéphane.

Calamari Rings in Red Sauce

Sear bacon, shallots and onions in a cast iron pot.

In another skillet, sauté the calamari in olive oil. Flambé with cognac.

You then dump your seafood in the pot and add your bouquet garni. Add 125g of tomato paste for each pound of fish.

Darken the sauce on medium heat and wet it as you go along with a big glass of white wine.

When your sauce is dark enough, you add fish stock to level. Let the whole thing boil on low heat for a good 2 hours, adding liquid as needed.

When the sauce has reduced enough, add some garlic, a pinch of paprika and some cayenne pepper.

Let it all simmer very slowly for about 15 minutes and adjust your seasoning.

Then thicken your sauce with a bit of white roux.

And voila!

I made this calamari dish for Christmas eve, served with white rice.

It was exquisite.

Merci, mon ami!



72 thoughts on “Stéphane’s Calamari in Red Sauce

  1. Bonjour, All Recipes I got to read from your blog are Amazing! I just had my (poor) lunch because of diet:), and while looking at pictures, I’m getting hungry ;-) … everything here sounds so Yummy! Merci beaucoup for sharing your délicieuses recettes.

    • I know – the lobsters! Since I can’t eat fresh seafood where I live, it was a dream to be limited to my daughter’s pescatarian diet! And the seafood in season there was so beautiful.

    • Thank you. I know, I”be only had quickly grilled calamari. Until then I had no idea that you could slow cook them!

  2. I am a pescatarian like your daughter, I would have been in heaven as well. These calamari rings sound amazingly tasty. Love the recipe!

    • I would certainly be most always a pescatarian, except that I live in Oklahoma! No fresh seafood here, so I in hale it when we vacation!

    • Can you imagine having (at least) four different markets so close?!! Crazy wonderful. I’ve visited Stéphane three times now, and they’re all been some of the best travel and food experiences!

  3. What a wonderful trip it must have been and what a great recipe. I love the slow and low long cook. The calamari must have melted in your mouth. A “must try” in my book.

  4. I cannot remember whether it was your blog which introduced me to Stephane’s or ‘My French Heaven’ which introduced me to yours but I remember Stephane’s post about your visit. I mentioned one of his ‘simple’ recipes, also seafood, in a post recently. It still rates as one of the top seafood dishes for me.

    • His food in wonderful. He doesn’t post any more, and many of us fans are sad about that. Guess I’ll just have to visit him again!

  5. What a dream holiday, how lucky you are to share those memories with your daughter. I like the long slow cooking of the calamari, I have tried to do a shorter one in a red sauce but the calamari was very tough. I think the trick is either fast (like fried or grilled) or a longer braise. Thank you for introducing me to his blog.

  6. Sounds like a terrific trip. Love the photos! And really LOVE this recipe. So interesting — I’ve never had anything like this. Thanks.

  7. That sounds so good, love Stephane’s dishes. I’m very envious that you’ve been to stay with him, it’s something I’d really enjoy. Such a lovely and talented man.

  8. Seeing those shots of Libourne and Stephane cooking brings me back to our trips over. He has such an engaging style and relaxed manner in the kitchen. A joy to spend time in his company.

  9. What a wonderful post! There’s nothing quite like southern France is there? The food and wines are just amazing! The calamari? Wow! The flavors, yummy! What a wonderful trip this had to have been for you and your daughter. Like her, I’d live on pescatarian meals, but then there’s another person in this house who would miss meat every so often :) That’s a beautiful picture of you and your daughter.

    • Thank you Loretta. I’ve actually never met a part of France I haven’t liked, but I’ve yet to see the northwest corner. On my list!

  10. Stéphane is the greatest. Love this recipe and recognize his writing style. This sauce would also be great with pasta, and then I would probably Italianify it a little (no fish stock, no bouquet garni, no roux, fresh parsley at the end).

  11. There is a restaurant we enjoy that serves calamari in marinara sauce that I love and have always wanted to replicate it at home but now I think I’ll try this recipe first! It sounds so wonderful and what a trip! I can only imagine the food you must have eaten. Oh, La, La!

  12. Lovely photos! It looks like you and your daughter had a lot of fun. So much delicious food too! I particularly love the shot of the calamari rings being flambéed. My goodness, it looks so flavourful!

  13. I’ve always loved fried calamari and all sorts of seafood recipe. This Calamari red sauce is a must-try. Looks zesty and flavorful!

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