Lemon-Pepper Calamari

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When you’re hungry (especially during Lent) your belly can inspire you to create the simplest and most delicious dishes. One of the easiest dishes to prepare is fried calamari. One need only find fresh or thawed from frozen squid, mix a bowl of seasoned flour and have the confidence to fry in hot oil. Not so bad is it?

No rocket science here but I’ve taken my basic fried calamari recipe and I amped it up to become my own KFC…Kalofagas Fried Calamari! I’ve flavoured the flour with sea salt, fresh ground pepper and lemon zest…lots of lemon zest. A whole two lemons were zested for this recipe so that the bright citrus flavour comes through in the coating.

This method is great as you get all that lemon flavour without having to worry about your crispy calamari going mushy once the lemon juice hits it at the end. Here, one only add a small squeeze of juice and still enjoy crisp calamari, imagine yourself at a seaside taverna Greece, light wind tousling your hair and the sun setting below the horizon and Greek blue sea.

Lemon-Pepper Calamari

(meze for 4)

1 lb. of squid tubes (plus tentacles)

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1/3 cup corn meal

2 Tbsp. of corn starch

zest of 2 lemons

1 Tbsp. fresh ground pepper

2 tsp. fine sea salt

sunflower oil for frying

fleur de sel for finishing

lemon wedges for garnish

  1. To clean your squid, pull the head from the tube and ensure the flimsy plastic-looking spine is removed from each tube. To trim the tentacles, cut off the heads (just below the eyes) and discard. Remove any other matter in the tubes and rinse everything well under cold water.
  2. Strain your calamari and pat-dry. In a large bowl add the flour, cornmeal, corn starch, lemon zest ground pepper and salt and mix well with a fork. Add the calamari into the bowl and toss in the flour to coat and reserve.
  3. Place about 3 inches of oil in your fryer and bring up to 350F.  Shake off excess flour from your calamari and carefully place in the oil. Fry in 2-3 batches until golden brown and place on paper-lined plate.
  4. Season with fleur de sel, serve with lemon wedges and enjoy with a Kechri Pine’s Tear Retsina or Ouzo on ice.


© 2012,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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9 Comments for “Lemon-Pepper Calamari”


I’ve never managed to get a really good crisp coating and tender flesh on fried squid, even though my other fried seafood is very good. I wonder what I am doing wrong?


Such a clever way to enjoy calamari; I love lemon over them but the crisp effect goes that way, your lemon zest idea is genious! Many thanks for sharing, I too am dreaming by the Med & Aegean coast.. :)



Hi Peter
What is the difference between corn starch and corn meal?
In Australia these ingredients must be named something else.
I’m assuming corn starch is what we would call cornflour, but not sure about the corn meal? Would that be polenta?


We have a fish taverna (Akrogiali,aka Benies)in Agios Georgios Pagoi,Corfu Greece,the view is spectacular as is their Kalamari dishes…Will have to try this recipe at home when they close over the winter..Thank you my mouth is drooooooling !