Better than takeout...how about better than at the restaurant!
Most people put fried calamari in the category of things that they enjoy only in restaurants, never daring to make the dish at home. They could not be more mistaken. It is not only easy to make fried calamari at home, but it is even better than the restaurant version because you can make it your own (like my Thai-inspired Fried Calamari) and enjoy it within moments of being cooked. A traditional and simple flour dredging seasoned with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper is all you need to coat fine quality fresh squid. This recipe elevates the Italian classic with delicious and impressive edible garnishes: fried lemon slices and parsley. Any dipping sauce you fancy will work, but a classic marinara is always a win. As soon as you make it, you'll wish you made a double batch.
Equipment: cutting board; chef’s knife; paring knife; dry and wet measuring cups; measuring spoons; colander or strainer; 2 small sheet pans or plates lined with paper towels; 1 large sheet pan; blender or food processor; rubber spatula; resealable plastic bag; deep fryer or Dutch oven and thermometer; tongs or slotted spoon/spider
Calamari Ingredients: 2 pounds squid, cleaned
1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
vegetable oil for deep-frying
1 lemon, thinly sliced (optional) fistful of parsley leaves (optional)
Garnishes: marinara sauce fried parsley leaves fried lemon slices
fresh lemon wedges
1. First prepare the calamari. Rinse the mantles (the "bodies") and the tentacles (the "feet") and drain well. Slice the mantles crosswise into rings about ¼-inch thick. Set aside.
2. In a resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, kosher salt, and black pepper to make the coating mixture. Set aside.
ILOC tip: if you want to make this recipe gluten-free, simply swap the flour with corn meal for the coating mixture.
3. Fill a deep-fryer (or a Dutch oven 2/3 full) with vegetable oil. Heat to 350°F. Preheat the oven to 200°F.
4. Dredge half a cup of squid rings and tentacles in the coating mixture, seal the plastic bag, and shake well to coat. Remove the coated calamari from the bag and place on a small sheet pan or plate, shaking off excess flour before adding the calamari to the oil.
5. Fry the squid for 2-3 minutes, or until the coating is crisped and light-golden brown. Be careful not to overcook the calamari, which is more important than the coating color. Remove the squid from the oil and drain on a paper towel-lined sheet pan or plate. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt.
6. Continue in batches to dredge in coating and fry in oil the squid, placing each batch in the warm oven with the previous batches, after draining on paper towels.
7. If using, fry the optional lemon slices for 2-3 minutes after all the squid has been fried. Then fry the parsley leaves for 30 seconds - 1 minute. Drain both on paper towels.
8. Serve the calamari with marinara sauce, lemon wedges, and the optional fried lemon and parsely leaves.
Makes 4 main course or 8 appetizer servings.