What Is Calamari? How to Cook Squid With Easy Fried Calamari Recipe

Buying, Cooking, and Recipes

Calamari, popular seafood, is the Italian word for ‘squid’. Squid is a type of Cephalopod that comes from the family of Cephalopoda. Oftentimes, Calamari is confused with being made out of octopus instead of squid. Squid does look similar to an octopus, but its flesh is much more tender and thinner. Although the flesh can feel firm or tough, if it is cooked properly, it will most likely taste tender. Although different cultures tend to consume Calamari with different cooking methods, most of the time it is served deep-fried. 

What is Calamari?

What is Squid and is is the Same as Calamari?

As mentioned above, Calamari is the culinary name for deep-fried squid dishes. This seafood is usually served as an appetiser in restaurants. It has a ring-like shape that comes from two body parts of the squid: 

1. The ‘Mantle’, also known as ‘tube’, is simply the width of the squid. 

2. The tentacles are commonly referred to as the arms of the squid. 

To keep it simple, the entirety of a squid’s body is edible down to its ink except for its beak and gladius, also referred to as the pen. 

Where does Calamari come from?

Calamari originally came from and is most commonly found in the Mediterranean. But ever since the 1970s, it started becoming popular seafood all across the world. Even though there are approximately 300 different types of squids in the sea world, no more than a dozen are used for cooking. 

What does Calamari taste like

Calamari can only taste its best when it’s properly cooked. And if done so, Calamari can have a mild or even sweet taste to it, but the sweet taste can also depend on its marinating. Since it is usually deep-fried, it will be a combination of crispiness and tenderness. It should not feel rubbery or tough because it indicates that it’s been overcooked. But note that one should refrain from eating it if it’s undercooked, resulting in food poisoning. 

Since both overcooking and undercooking seem like a bad idea when it comes to making Calamari, it leads us to question the amount of time we need to cook it for. 

How to cook Calamari

It can be a bit challenging to boil Calamari for the right amount of time. But since the goal is to keep the texture tender, the trick is to use low heat to boil the squid. It takes about half an hour to boil it until it’s soft properly. But it’s best to check its texture with a fork every now so that it’s easier to stop at the right time. 

When it comes to frying the Calamari, it is usually about 1-2 minutes on medium heat for each side. And as for what to cook it with, it comes down to the individual’s preferences. But the minimal approach to cooking it comes down to these steps:

  1. Rinse the squids and cut the tubes into ring-like shapes. 
  2. Gather the following ingredients-
  • One bowl of all-purpose flour
  • Two eggs
  • Semolina flour (or bread crumbs)
  • Salt
  • Black pepper 
  • Oil (e.g. Peanut oil, sunflower oil, etc.)
  1. Cover the bottom half of your frying pan with your desired oil and heat for about five minutes on medium heat. 
  2. While the oil is heating, season your flour and bread crumbs (if used) with some salt and black pepper. 
  3. Beat the eggs and place them in a separate bowl.
  4. Coat your Calamari first with the seasoned flour, then the beaten eggs, and lastly with the bread crumbs or the Semolina flour.
  5. Set them on the pan and fry each side for about one and half minutes. 
  6. Flip the Calamaris once their bottoms start to form a brownish color. 
  7. After both sides are fried properly and evenly, set them on the plate, you’ll be serving. 
  8. You can use a dipping sauce of your choice to pair it with. 

Once again, recipes vary from person to person. Plus, as mentioned earlier, different cultures tend to do things differently. So there is no one-for-all method when it comes to cooking. But following the basics and adding your preferred techniques can help perfect the art of cooking.

How to buy Calamari

Last but not least, all the efforts of cooking Calamari can go down the drain if one fails to pick the fresh ones from the market. So it’s very important to learn to spot the fresh ones. Most of the time, the Calamaris on the market will be clean and without the skin.

Although the skin is edible, most people prefer to have it removed for its appearance. If you are buying the ones that are already cleaned and rid of the skin, make sure they look shiny and plump. But some people also enjoy the ones with the skin. And if you are one of them, picking the fresh ones can be a bit tricky.

But if you take a closer look at its skin, you will see purplish dots all over it with an off-white background. And that is what indicates that the Calamari is fresh. But if you notice that the background is a bit too dark and the spots are almost black, it means that the Calamari has been there on the market for quite a while and you may want to refrain from buying that one. 

So these are the basics one needs to know about the popular seafood Calamari, starting from what it is and how to buy and cook it.