How to Make Delicious Crispy Calamari Rings

Hi everyone! Welcome to my first blog post EVER!  Please forgive any grammatical mistakes or other blunders until I figure out what I’m actually doing. As I was going through old photos on my phone to get ideas about what I wanted to write for my first post, I came across some awesome fresh calamari shots from this past spring.  Since it’s not the hardest thing in the world to cook, but still impressive enough to attempt, I decided to stick to making fried calamari for my first entry.  I realize not everyone likes squid, but please bear with me. There will be a wide variety of recipes in the future, I promise. 🙂 If you decide not to use squid, you can still adopt some of the techniques and ingredients to use with other things— shrimp or fish nuggets, for example.

One of my favorite appetizers to try when going out to eat is fried calamari when it’s available. Personally, the way a restaurant prepares their calamari sets the tone for what I can expect of the rest of the meal. If it’s boring and soggy, forget the meal, I’m out. I really like calamari that is bursting with flavor and seafood goodness, that is crispy but not greasy and overwhelmed with batter.  I think I finally came up with a delicious way to prepare calamari at home. My kids, as picky as they are, love eating these fried calamari rings, and I hope you and your family will, too. 

Me and my beautiful plate of fresh calamari that I found at the Asian seafood market! Fresh calamari should not smell overly fishy. Instead, it should smell like salty ocean water.

First, start off by buying the freshest calamari you can find. If it’s not available where you live, you can also use frozen calamari rings from the grocer. Here in the Gulf, we have access to great seafood most of the year. I went to the local Asian seafood market to purchase these beauties. When you purchase, they should smell like the salty sea, not too fishy. Their flesh should be firm and almost translucent.  When I went to Vietnam a couple years ago, I had the opportunity to witness firsthand the harvest of calamari by village fisherman. They start off a clear blue color when taken out of the water and almost immediately turn reddish when landed. The taste of freshly caught calamari is just indescribably delectable!

Vietnamese fisherman in Vinh Hien province showing off his fresh catch of calamari.
Freshly caught calamari quickly changes color from a translucent blue to a translucent reddish purple.

Delicious Fried Calamari Rings Recipe:

(serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 to 3 large fresh squid, about 2 pounds. Or frozen calamari rings, thawed.
  • All-purpose seasoning mix (I like Badia Complete Seasoning or Slap Ya’ Mama Cajun Seasoning for spicy lovers)
  • 3 egg whites (the yolks make the batter heavier)
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Peanut oil for frying
  • For the Chili Lime Dipping Sauce:  
  • 1/2 cup any brand Sweet Thai Chili Sauce (available in Asian section of grocery store)
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce,
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove finely minced garlic

1.  Clean the calamari by peeling off the dark outer membrane to expose the light flesh. Remove the eyes and the beak if you will be consuming the head.  Cut calamari into 1/2″ thick rings.

My older daughter is cleaning the calamari by peeling the outer dark membrane to reveal the white flesh underneath.
After the calamari is cleaned, it is sliced into rings. If the head is too big, you can separate the tentacles and cut the head into smaller pieces.  Make sure to remove the eyes and the “beak” (the hard mandibles or jaws). 

2.  Sprinkle complete seasoning on slices to taste and marinate calamari for about 30 minutes.

3.  I prefer using a deep fryer for consistent results, but you can use a large cast iron pot or pan if you don’t have a fryer. Heat the oil to 375 degrees F.

4. Whisk egg whites in a bowl.  In another bowl, mix together cornstarch, flour, pepper and salt.

5.  Dip the calamari rings into the egg whites, then toss into the cornstarch mixture to coat thoroughly.  Shake off excess breading.

6.  Fry the calamari in the hot oil in batches, being careful not to over-crowd the fryer. You want your calamari to by nice and crispy, not a sticky mess. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes. Do not over-cook, unless you intentionally want chewy and tough calamari. 

7.  Remove calamari rings from oil and place into a paper-towel-lined colander or plate. This will soak up the excess oil and keep your calamari crispier longer.

8.  Prepare dipping sauce by mixing all the sauce ingredients well with a spoon in a bowl.  Enjoy!

I hope you like this recipe.  Please feel free to share ideas and feedback.  Also, let me know how you like to prepare calamari?  Take care and talk to you soon!

2 thoughts on “How to Make Delicious Crispy Calamari Rings

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