Introduction: Pan-Fried Squid (Calamari)
Fast, easy, and almost fool-proof calamari.
Step 1: Clean and Chop Squid
Pull the head/tentacles away from the body. Scoop any remaining guts out of the body, and remove the thin plasticy quill. Rinse the body inside and out, then slice into approximately 3/4-1 inch thick rings.
Squeeze behind the head to extrude the beak, and remove it from the center of the tentacles. Cut just below the eyes to free the tentacles, then add them to the bowl with the body rings.
Tentacles are the best part. No, really- they're fantastic.
Step 2: Spice Mix
Combine equal parts flour and the spices of your choice.
I chose black pepper and chili powder; you can substitute any flavorings that make you happy. Dried thyme, oregano, and rosemary work well, as do curry, allspice, cajun spice, garlic, citrus zest, or just about any other flavors you like.
Mix, and add a pinch of salt.
Step 3: Coat Squid
Dredge your squid in the flour/spice mix.
You can do this piece by piece, or just dump a big scoop into the mix and stir it around. Either way, you'll get the squid pieces nicely coated in a thin layer of flour and spices.
Note that we're not coating the squid in egg or milk first- this is to keep the coating thin. Adding more stick liquid to the squid causes a dangerously high fried goo to squid ratio; we're trying for a bit of less-greasy subtlety, and to let the squid taste come through. (Not that this should stop you from experimenting in the future; after all, they're your arteries, not mine.)
Step 4: Fry
Drop the squid into a hot pan filled about 1/8-1/4 inch deep with canola, peanut, or other high-heat frying oil. Tongs work very well for handling squid in hot grease- just make sure they can stand high temperatures.
These will cook FAST- less than a minute on each side. You really want to take them out as soon as the squid has gone opaque and the flour has browned. There will barely be time to put the last piece in the pan before you have to flip the first one, so run a few tests with one or two pieces before frying a full pan.
Set the finished squid on a paper towel to dry and cool. They'll continue to cook for a bit after you take them out of the pan.
Step 5: Serve
Serve your fried calamari hot, as soon as possible.
If you haven't overcooked it the squid won't go rubbery, but most all fried food is at its taste peak when it's still warm and crunchy.
A bit of lime, fresh herbs, or dipping sauce such as aioli or a citrus vinaigrette can give an extra pop.