Pan-Fried Squid (Calamari)




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Fast, easy, and almost fool-proof calamari.

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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.

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    18 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Thankyou, appreciate the instructable..


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I love calamari! this looks great:)


    11 years ago on Step 5

    you could also substitute flour for cornmeal to add some crunch, a small, and i mean SMALL, amount of sesamame oil or change it completely to rice oil for an asian twist

    2 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Neat idea! I haven't used rice oil- does it give a strong/distinctive flavor? I'm guessing not as strong as sesame oil.

    this is one of the things i make for family parties(i am from an asian decent just to let you know). I have never thought of mixing black pepper and chili powder. Hmmm, maybe when I disect squids I can give this recipie to my science teacher.

    2 replies

    oh,and the quill that you take out, its actually the last remains of a shell that it used to have,a squid is related to a slug or snail. The squid is also considerd a shell fish.


    12 years ago on Step 1

    Alternatively here you can keep the body in a single piece, do all the previous steps but then insert a knife gently into the body and find the seam. Sounds strange but you'll see it! Cut along the seam and you'll get a nice big squid sheet. If you score this is in a criss-cross fashion on the unpaterned side when you put it into the pan it will curl up to it's original shape (but inside out). It gives a nice finished look to the dish


    12 years ago

    I came back from a fishing trip in Mexico with about 80lbs of giant squid. There about 20-35 lbs each. One addition to cooking bigger squid is that they are VERY salty. Soak the meat in milk for at least an hour. It will leach out much of the salt. Not sure what process does this.

    2 replies

    Reply 12 years ago

    Whoa! What do you do with them? I've never cooked big squid, but have eaten them in restaurants. The bodies are usually sectioned and treated like quick-cooking steak- either marinated and grilled, or chopped into strips and quick-fried. I don't know that I've seen tentacles from the large squid used, though. Have you any further information to share? The soaking process is osmotic balance- the salt can pass through cell membranes, and will equilibrate with the outside liquid. Fresh water isn't a good choice, as it would easily be taken up into the meat, leaving you with a waterlogged mess- thus the milk.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    I believe large squid should be mechanically tenderised. A good squid tip is also to look for 2 rows of suckers on each tentacle, they're better eating!


    12 years ago

    I love calamari! Looks great.


    12 years ago

    Looks tasty. Are they? :D


    12 years ago

    Oh Yeah!!! Yummy.