One of my all-time favorite guilty pleasures: light and crispy fried calamari. Also called Calamari Fritti, this seafood appetizer is shockingly straightforward to make, and always a crowd pleaser.
is calamari a squid or octopus?
I could dig into the calamari vs squid vs octopus discussion for hours, but you probably aren't THAT concerned. Suffice it to say that calamari is a type of squid, most restaurants make calamari fritti with whatever squid they can find (regardless of if it's actually the calamari type), and that squid is NOT the same as octopus.
Octopus tends to be more tender out of the gate than squid, and with the exception of some Greek Mythology and a few really alarming discoveries off the coast of Japan, the average squid tends to be smaller than the average octopus.
For cooking purposes, you'll be most interested in one key difference: squid have a cartilage "pen" that serves as a backbone type of structure that needs to be removed before cooking. Octopus have nothing like this!
how bad is fried calamari for you?
Ehhhhhhh pretty bad. Covered in flour and deep fried, the calories are high and the macros aren't exactly balanced. If it's any consolation, this fried calamari recipe is at least lighter than the thickly breaded calamari style.
how do you tenderize calamari before frying?
Milk! Milk is the magic ingredient here. The lactic acid helps break down the proteins in the squid and makes it more tender. However, it's cooking time that is really the most important factor for making a tender squid dish. No amount of tenderizing before cooking is going to save an overcooked calamari dish.
Why does calamari get rubbery?
Overcooking! and in rare cases, adding too much acid ( which has the same effect.) Fry your calamari until it is JUST barely done, and you'll come out with a crispy on the outside, tender bite every time.
What sauce goes best with calamari fritti?
I always serve fried calamari with some fresh lemon wedges, but for dipping sauce, these are all wonderful options:
- Homemade tartar sauce
- Citrus Aioli
If you love seafood, you might also enjoy these recipes:
- White Wine and Tomato Baked Cod
- Spicy Squid in Tomato Sauce
- Shrimp Saganaki ( Greek Shrimp with Feta and Tomatoes)
Calamari Fritti ( Fried Calamari )
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 lb calamari tubes and tentacles pen removed and tubes cut into ½" rings
- 1.5 cups AP flour
- 2 teaspoon salt plus extra for sprinkling post-fry
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- frying oil enough to fill your cooking pot at least 2" deep with oil
- Combine the milk, hot sauce, and calamari in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to tenderize the calamari.
- Drain off the milk, but do not pat the calamari dry. The residual milk will help the flour stick. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a large bowl or bag. Toss the calamari in the flour until it is completely coated.
- Pour the oil into a large, heavy bottomed pot and bring it to 340°F.I HIGHLY recommend you use a candy/oil thermometer for this. If you don't have an oil/candy thermometer, you can pick one up at any grocery store or from Amazon.
- Prepare a draining area by laying down several layers of paper towels on a cookie sheet, and have salt ready next to it for sprinkling.
- Shake off any excess flour from the calamari, and in batches, place it into the 340°F oil. Cook for 3 minutes.Make sure each piece has enough room to move about as it fries. Crowding the pot will result in under-browned and soggy fried calamari.
- Remove the fried calamari from the oil and place on the paper towels you prepared earlier. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat until all calamari is cooked.
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