Fried Calamari (Calamares in Filipino) is a dish made from squid, usually served as an appetizer. The squid is cut into rings or strips, lightly battered, then deep-fried until golden brown and crispy. One of the tricks to make tender calamari is to fry them briefly over high heat.
You may also like Okoy or Ukoy (Shrimp and Vegetable Fritters), another Filipino appetizer.
Ingredients you'll need
Notes and substitutions
- Squid: Choose small to medium-sized squid, as they tend to be sweeter and more tender. Slice them into thicker rings to allow the coating to brown without overcooking the calamari.
- Milk: You can use whole milk or other milk products like buttermilk or yogurt diluted with water. The acidity tenderizes meat proteins, making calamari tender. It also removes unpleasant fishy odors and helps the coating adhere better.
- Flour: A combination of all-purpose flour and rice flour makes the crunchiest, golden-brown coating that's not too heavy. You can use potato starch or cornstarch in place of rice flour.
- Baking powder: It creates bubbles that result in a light and crispy coating. It makes a huge difference, so don't skip it.
How to make this recipe
If you bought whole fresh squid, your first step is to clean the squid. Frozen squid should be thawed in the fridge or under cold running water if you are pressed for time.
(1)Slice the squid tubes into ¾-inch thick rings.
(2)Combine about 1 cup of milk and 1 teaspoon kosher salt (use less for table salt) in a bowl. Soak the squid in salted milk. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
(3)Combine ⅔ cup all-purpose flour, ⅔ cup rice flour, and 2 teaspoons baking powder in a separate bowl. Drain the squid and transfer them to the flour mixture.
Coat them evenly and shake off any excess. Allow the flour to fully hydrate as you heat the oil; this ensures a crunchy coating that doesn't fall off the calamari.
(4)Set a saucepan or wok over high heat, then add an inch of oil. Dip a wooden spoon handle or chopstick to check when it's hot and ready—it should steadily bubble around it. If using a thermometer, aim for 375° F (190° C).
(5)Fry the calamari in batches until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir them gently so they don't stick together. Don't crowd the pan that may cause the temperature to drop and make the calamari greasy and soggy.
(6)Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to quickly remove the batch from the oil.
(7)Transfer them on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Serve Fried Calamari with lemon and dips like sweet chili sauce or spiced vinegar.
Frequently asked questions
Squid has a firm texture and has little flavor on its own. Smaller sizes tend to be more tender, less chewy, and slightly sweeter. Because it has a neutral taste, it readily absorbs flavors from marinades or sauces.
Yes. Calamari is the Italian word and the culinary name for squid. It is often used to describe squid that has been prepared in a specific way. Some believe squid and calamari are associated with different cephalopod species, with calamari being smaller and more tender.
Squid and octopus (along with cuttlefish) are cephalopods with similar characteristics but are not the same. An octopus is a lot bigger with 8 tentacles. It has thicker flesh and tastes a lot like squid with a very mild seafood flavor. They both have a firm, chewy texture and can be rubbery unless properly cooked.
Smaller squid tends to be more tender and sweeter than larger ones. The key is to cook them briefly over high heat. Marinating can also reduce their chewiness. You can soak them in milk, buttermilk, lemon juice, or water with baking soda; the acidity helps tenderize and reduce their fishy smell.
A combination of all-purpose flour, rice flour, and baking powder will produce a light, golden-brown crust that stays crisp. Deep-fry the calamari briefly at high temperature. Avoid crowding the pan to prevent the temperature from dropping, making them soggy and greasy.
Other seafood recipes you may like
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Fried Calamari (Calamares)
- Dutch oven, saucepan, or wok
- 1 pound small or medium-sized squid (cleaned) cut into ¾-inch thick rings
- 1 cup milk sub:buttermilk or yogurt diluted with water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt (use less for table salt)
- ⅔ cup all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup rice flour sub:cornstarch or potato flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Neutral oil for frying (peanut, avocado, or other vegetable oils)
- Sweet chili sauce for dipping (optional)
- Combine milk and 1 teaspoon salt in a bowl.
- Soak the squid in salted milk. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.
- Combine all-purpose flour, rice flour, and baking powder in a separate bowl.
- Drain the squid and transfer them to the flour mixture. Coat them evenly and shake off any excess.
- Set a small, wide-mouthed pot over high heat, then add an inch of oil. Dip a wooden spoon handle or chopstick to check when it's hot and ready—it should steadily bubble around it. If using a thermometer, aim for 375° F (190° C).
- Fry the calamari in batches until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir them gently so they don't stick together. Don't crowd the pan that may cause the temperature to drop and make the calamari greasy and soggy.
- Use a skimmer or slotted spoon to quickly remove the batch from the oil.
- Transfer them on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
I love, love, love fried calamari!!! This is the recipe i’ve been looking for. Thank you so much! It was the best!
This looks crispy and delicious! I will try this recipe soon.