Every restaurant uses a different coating or batter for deep fried calamari. Personally, I prefer calamari that is crispy, but very lightly coated so that you can enjoy the subtle taste of the squid. I’ve made this several times now and it always works – as long as you watch the temperature of the oil carefully (see the note below for details).
Photo above: Half of what the recipe makes is shown above.
(Keep your eyes open for my recipe for deep fried squid tentacles, Chinese salt and pepper style.)
Deep Fried Calamari Recipe
serves 6 (this recipe halves well); adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1 lb calamari bodies and tentacles, cleaned well (remove any hard, bone-like pieces, remove the flaps from the peak of the bodies, and cut the bodies into 1/2-inch-thick rings)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1 tbsp coarse salt plus more for sprinkling
ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder (optional)
1 lemon, cut into wedges
dipping sauce(s) of your choice, ie. marinara sauce, hot sauce, and/or my favourite, aioli
Note: It is important to watch the temperature of the oil carefully. When the oil is initially heating up, don’t allow it to burn and be patient, because if you cook your calamari at under 350 degrees F, it will taste greasy. The temperature of the oil will drop slightly when you add uncooked pieces of calamari, so cook them in batches. Also, allow the oil to return to 355 F before adding the next batch.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a wok or in a large, wide mouthed, heavy bottomed pot. The depth of the oil should be more than enough to cover the calamari pieces, approximately 3 inches deep. Heat the oil to 355 degrees F (I set up a candy thermometer). Meanwhile, mix the flour, parsley, salt, a pinch of black pepper, and garlic powder (if using) in a wide mouthed bowl. Just before you’re ready to cook the calamari, work in small batches and toss the calamari pieces into the flour mixture and coat them very well. Gently shake off the excess flour and carefully add the calamari pieces to the hot oil. Fry until crispy and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Do not overcook or the calamari will be tough. Fry the calamari in 2 or 3 batches and do not overcrowd the oil. Ensure that the temperature of the oil returns to 355 F between batches. Using a Chinese wire strainer (or a slotted spoon), transfer the fried calamari to a paper bag lined plate. (Note: I’ve always found that using paper towel makes deep fried foods soggy, so I prefer to use brown paper bags.) Sprinkle immediately with coarse salt. Try not to stack the fried calamari pieces. Transfer the fried calamari to a clean plate, add the lemon wedges, and serve immediately while still hot with the dipping sauce(s) of your choice.