Thai-Inspired Fried Calamari
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 and enjoy it within moments of being cooked. This recipe offers a Thai-inspired spin on the Italian classic. Corn meal and lime zest are added to the traditional flour dredging...sliced limes are fried for extra, concentrated forward flavor...a dipping sauce is made of mangoes, coconut milk, and kaffir lime that "thais" the whole thing together. 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
Dipping Sauce Ingredients:
flesh of half a mango
1 cup coconut milk
¼ cup cilantro leaves 1 tablespoon chopped kaffir lime leaves juice of one lime
pinch of kosher salt
2 pounds squid, cleaned 1 cup flour
1 cup white corn meal
zest of one lime
1 teaspoon kosher salt
vegetable oil for deep-frying
1 lime, thinly sliced (optional)
Garnishes: Thai bird chili, thinly sliced crosswise cilantro leaves lime wedges
"If you can't find any fresh or preserved kaffir lime leaves in a local specialty Asian store or online, just skip this ingredient altogether. The flavor is so distinct that it cannot be substituted with anything."
1. First prepare the dipping sauce. In a blender or food processor, combine the mango, coconut milk, cilantro leaves, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, and kosher salt until well combined. Set aside.
ILOC tip: zest the lime before you juice it because you need that zest for the calamari coating.
2. Next 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.
3. In a resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, corn meal, lime zest and salt to make the coating mixture. Set aside.
ILOC tip: if you want to make this recipe gluten-free, simply leave out the flour and double the corn meal for the coating mixture.
4. Fill a deep-fryer (or a Dutch oven 2/3 full) with vegetable oil. Heat to 350°F. Preheat the oven to 200°F.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. If using, fry the optional lime slices for 2-3 minutes after all the squid has been fried.
9. Serve the calamari and optional fried lime with thinly sliced Thai bird chili, cilantro leaves, fresh lime wedges, and the mango-coconut-kaffir lime sauce.
Makes 4 main course or 8 appetizer servings.