Crispy Fried Calamari is a delicious and easy appetizer to make that you’ll love served with lemon or marinara sauce.
We love this calamari as an appetizer served with our favorite Italian dinners like Olive Garden Chicken Piccata and Ultimate Meat Lasagna. We also sometimes just do fish fry dinners and serve it alongside Classic Fried Shrimp and Beer Battered Crispy Fish Tacos.
Crispy Fried Calamari
Calamari seems intimidating to most people I’ve ever made it for. During dinner parties I’d cook for clients we would often have a portion where I would teach them how to cook one of the dishes. Almost without fail when calamari was on the menu they’d want to see me cook it even though I’d offer something more enjoyable or more difficult since making calamari is so easy.
What is calamari made of? Squid! It may sound scary, but it’s just like eating any other seafood when cooked properly. The visions of kids hating calamari come from versions that have been so overcooked its rubbery and unappealing. Well cooked calamari is crispy, light and tender, perfect with just a squeeze of lemon juice or marinara sauce for serving.
The only part of calamari that is even marginally difficult is cleaning the squid.
How to clean a whole Squid:
- Wash the squid under cold water.
- Pull the tentacles off the body (I don’t care for fried tentacles so I discard but you can absolutely fry them too).
- Pull out the clear quill (looks like a plastic feather) and the other innards of the squid.
- Rinse well again and remove the purple sheath from the squid.
- Cut the fins and the head off the squid and discard.
- If the beak is still present, squeeze to remove.
- Rinse one final time before slicing into rings.
How to clean prepared squid:
- In most grocery stores they sell prepared, cleaned squid. If you’ve purchased the cleaned variety the first thing to ensure is that it’s fresh. Squid should smell like…nothing. If it smells off or fishy in any way it isn’t fresh and you shouldn’t purchase it.
- Once you find fresh, prepped squid you can bring it home, rinse it well then dab it dry with a paper towel.
- You may also be able to find frozen cleaned squid. If so defrost gently, rinse and pat dry. Fresh will always be more tender than frozen though.
What to serve calamari with?
- lemon wedges
- Marinara Sauce for dipping
- Canola oil for frying
- 1 pound clean squid bodies cut in ¼ inch rings and dried with a paper towel
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
- In a large pot or dutch oven add three inches of oil and bring to 350 degrees.
- Add the flour, salt, garlic powder and pepper to a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Toss the squid pieces in the flour then into the hot oil.
- Fry the squid for 1-2 minutes. You want the color to stay pale like in the pictures.
- Remove to a cookie sheet to drain (do not add paper towels as it will steam the calamari and make it soft.)
- Serve with lemon wedges.