I love squid and a simple fried calamari with a pepper sauce is a favorite of mine. I am often disappointed when I order it in restaurants so I am content with my own recipe from time to time, changing the seasonings adding a little of this and that from the spice cabinet.
I have access to fresh squid most of the time, but I am not opposed to using frozen cleaned squid when the fishermen buy up what fresh there is for fish bait. Keep in mind while the box says 2 pounds, there are a ton of tentacles about 1/2 lb. in the last package.
Not saying that this is my best squid recipe or most elaborate, but it is what I crave for a quick dinner served with a big salad and good wine.
Calamari Fritti for dinner tonight so maybe I can get a finished dish photo before we eat it all.
whole pepperoncini peppers, seeded and fine diced
cup rinsed, dried and finely diced mild pepper rings
whole sweet cherry peppers, seeded, and finely diced
Additional sliced pepper rings of each for garnish
large clove of garlic, minced
teaspoons White balsamic vinegar
teaspoons sweet chili sauce or more to balance out the vinegar taste
Optional Agave syrup to sweeten, a little at a time until you have what you like
Black pepper to taste
Calamari and dredging ingredients
pound Calamari, cleaned and sliced into rings
cups Buttermilk for soaking, real buttermilk
cup AP flour
cup semolina flour, I tend to use more
teaspoon ground red pepper flakes
teaspoon black or white pepper
teaspoon salt (I omit when adding the seafood seasoning)
Optional a good pinch of Phillips seafood seasoning or Old Bay
Good pinch of paprika
A little finely grated lemon zest
Optional marinara, or aioli sauce of your choice
Olive oil/vegetable oil for frying
In This Recipe
Mix all the pepper sauce ingredients and taste, make ahead but bring to room temperature or heat slightly before adding to the fried calamari.
Clean calamari and slice into rings about 1/4 inch thick or bite size pieces if you prefer, soak in buttermilk for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Blend the dredging ingredients. Heat oil in deep fryer or cast iron pan. Lift calamari rings from the buttermilk and allow to drip before placing into flour, shake off excess flour and fry 2-3 minutes or until golden. Don't crowd the calamari, fry in batches, drain on paper towels, place into a serving dish and spoon the room temperature or slightly heated pepper sauce over fried calamari. Serve with lemon wedges and a marinara or aioli of your choice.
Remember that the pepper sauce has vinegar so go lightly with that squeeze of lemon.