Fried calamari is essentially fried squid. In fact, the word ‘Calamari’ is actually the Italian word for squid.
Fried calamari is a true delicacy for sea-food lovers. Even if you haven’t tried this terrific sea-food dish yet, you must have come across its’ name on the menu of a fine-dining restaurant. This exotic dish looks similar to golden onion rings with a super crispy bite.
Once you dig in, the soft, white meat, and its’ slightly sweet yet nutty flavor gives an explosion of flavors- especially when combined with tangy sides.
Essentially, there are many different ways to enjoy calamari. You can cook it, fry it, grill it, and you will surely savor your plate. Fried calamari, however, is a must-try for all foodies across the globe.
Fried Calamari is Fried Squid
Despite its’ popularity, many people do not actually know what ‘calamari’ stands for. In fact, they do not even know which fish type it really is.
Calamari is not only an Italian-sounding name, it actually is the Italian name for squid. Restaurants from all over the world have used this appealing name, and that’s how we all refer to this crunchy treat now.
In its’ most simple definition, calamari is ‘fried squid’. More specifically, calamari belongs to the Mediterranean cuisine. Many culinary experts believe that calamari is still a distinct delicacy from other squid-based dishes.
However, you should know that the aquatic animal used to prepare ‘calamari’ is essentially squid.
When Ordering Fried Calamari at a Restaurant
If you’re at a restaurant and you’re tempted to try this delicious sea-food dish, you should know what to expect.
Fried Calamari is mostly served in bite-sized portions of squid, that is covered in batter and then deep-fried to crispiness. Sometimes, you’ll also find tentacles on your plate, which are completely edible and quite tasty.
The taste of fried calamari is quite unique, which makes it impossible to truly describe it. The crunchy, flaky exterior combining with tender white meat inside is a treat for most sea-food enthusiasts.
You will enjoy the intense yet mildly sweet taste of calamari. And it is often paired with a garnish of lemon and parsley to enhance the presentation and flavor. You should also get a dipping sauce for a complete fried calamari experience!
You can also try other versions of calamari if you enjoy the fried one. For instance, you will also find calamari in pasta dishes if you’re in Italy. In Spain, calamari is not only fried but also added to ‘paella’ – their signature rice dish. For fresh-caught, grilled calamari, Croatia is the best place. Whereas it is regularly used in seafood salads in Greece.
If you’re in Asian countries like Japan, China, and Thailand, you will come across lots of versions of calamari dishes even in their street food.
What Part of the Squid is Calamari Made Of?
You may be wondering which body parts of the squid exactly go in the making of the famous calamari.
Well, it is the entire body, and also the tentacles that are attached to a part of its’ head. The spiny bone, gonads, and slimy parts are mostly removed. Basically, it is a lateral slice across the squids’ whole body.
How to Clean Calamari
It can be daunting for beginners to be presented with a fresh squid and starting the cleaning process. You should start by laying the squid flat and taking a look at its’ body until you can identify the head, the eyes, and the tentacles. The body will be distinctly separable.
It is better to wear gloves as you will be handling the squid and it will give off a fishy smell. Now, grab the part of the squids head that is behind its’ eyes and pull it forward gently while keeping your hand steady on the head. You will see the internal organs slide out.
Also remove its’ backbone, which would be hard and transparent. You should also remove the head, the beak, the fins and the skin.
The body and the tentacles of the squid are the edible parts. Simply cut just below the eyes to separate the tentacles.
Now that you have the tentacles and the body, you should rinse it in water properly. If you’re planning to make fried calamari rings, you should slice the squids’ body cross-wise.
Tips for Cooking Fried Calamari
You don’t have to be intimidated by deep-frying your calamari; it is much easier than you think. Although there are lots of recipes you can find and follow, here are some extremely important tips to make your fried calamari cooking a success.
Ideally, you should cut the calamari into tube shapes. Once you’ve done that, make sure to soak the calamari in lemon juice for at least 30 minutes. This is the best way to tenderize the squid meat and add more flavor to it.
Another extremely important tip is to use a light and thin coating of batter before frying the calamari. This will give your fried calamari the perfect crisp. If the coating is too thick, of if the batter liquid is too warm, the end result will be heavy and less crunchy.
Also remember that the most common reason for rubbery or gummy calamari is over-cooking. This makes the texture far less enjoyable. The key tip to get a soft and adequately chewy texture is too cook it quickly. With the shortest time, you will be able to maintain its’ taste and softness.
What to Serve with Fried Calamari
Fried calamari on it’s own is a treat for the tastebuds. However, you can also add some sides to offset, balance and enhance its’ flavor.
A salad or cabbage slaw with citrusy dressing goes really well with fries calamari. We also recommend you to make a dipping sauce to add some zestiness.
You can create a Greek garlic sauce called ‘Zazeki’ using garlic, cucumber, sour cream, yogurt, olive oil and a dash of salt and black pepper.
Another great dipping option is Spicy Marinara sauce made from tomatoes, herbs, garlic and onions. You can even add capers, olives, and more spices as per your preference.
Or, you can whip up the simple but all-time favorite sauce, ‘Lemon Aïoli’ that goes perfectly with all types of sea-food.
Whether you’re planning to dine out to try the amazing fried calamari, or you’re getting ready to create the magic in your own kitchen- we hope you are now prepared for it.