One of my first and favourite seafood dishes that I enjoyed in my earlier vacations to Greece is calamari. In particular, fried calamari.
Let’s get something off our shoulders…calamari are squid. Squid belong to the cephalapod family, which include octopus and cuttlefish. If you’re squeamish about cleaning squid, be kind and ask your fishmonger to do this for you. Barring that, you’re stuck with buying the frozen calamari rings.
Not that there’s anything wrong with calamari rings or frozen squid for that matter, as most of the calamari that we eat at our tables or in restaurants is or was at some point, frozen. However, go for the full monty.
Whenever I’m dining out and I have a craving for fried calamari, I feel cheated when the plate is full of just the rings.The tentacles are the best part of the calamari. Oh sure, the rings are delish but the tentacles? Divine.
What happened to the tentacles? Did the cook snip away and toss them? Did he/she save these crispy morsels for themselves or were they just plain lazy and bought a package of frozen or dare I say…pre-breaded and frozen calamari rings that simply got thrown in the deep fryer?
Frozen calamari is a perfectly good product and anyone of authority in Greece that I have spoken with asserts that freezing calamari (squid) can act as a tenderizer.
Another assurance of tender, succulent calamari is to not over fry the darn thing. I highly recommend a candy/oil thermometer which will give you an accurate read of the oil’s temperature before frying. The ideal temperature for frying seafood (calamari) or French fries is anywhere from 360-375F.
I’ve cooked with calamari on several occaisions and beyond cleaning them, they are a cinch to cook.
As per my post on fried calamari last year, many of the seafood tavernas in Greece will employ a circus-type of frying method for calamari. That is to say they dredge the squid in seasoned flour and then give them a quick dunk in ice-cold water and the squid get dropped into the waiting hot oil.
I know what you’re thinking…oil and water aren’t a happy pair and it’s true but this method works (albeit with some splatting) but the result is a delicious, crisp batter enveloping the tender cooked squid.
After some experimentation and borrowing from Asian cuisine, I’ve discovered that I can recreate this crisp, fried effect without worrying about hot oil dancing around the kitchen as it hits some water.
The solution? My same old mixture of corn flour and all-purpose flour mixed with some corn starch. That’s it – corn starch! I will never worry about spitting oil hitting me whilst frying up some seafood or in this case, calamari. So, now you have fried calamari, two ways…take your pic.
Again, cleaning squid is very easy, albeit a little stinky so if you’re a woman – call on the fishmonger or the man of the house do pony-up and clean some squid!
1 lb. of squid (thawed if frozen and cleaned)
1/3 cup corn flour
1 cup all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. of corn starch
salt and pepper to taste
vegetable oil for frying (I use sunflower oil)
lemon wedges for garnish
- Thaw, clean & rinse your calamari. Pat dry with paper towels.
- In a bowl, add your flour, corn flour, corn starch, salt, pepper and mix well. Have a quick taste of the flour mixture to assure yourself of proper seasoning.
- Dredge your calamari in the flour mixture and shake off excess flour. Let stand while you pre-heat your oil for frying. You should fry your calamari in about three inches of oil.
- As soon as your oil hits a temperature between 360-375F, you’re ready.
- Fry your calamari for 3-4 minutes per batch (1 lb. of calamari usually takes two batches). Season with sea salt.
- Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
- You might also want to try deep-fried mussels…using this same deep-frying method.
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