Fried Calamari

October  4, 2022
2 Ratings
  • Serves two or more
Author Notes

My version of fried calamari is pretty simple. It harkens back to a time in San Marino on market days, as the Fritto Misto lady doled out newspaper cones overflowing with crispy fried calamari and skinny little fish, dressed simply with a shower of salt and a wedge of lemon, to the hungry shoppers. I’ve taken the liberty to fancy it up a bit with the fried lemon slices, the frizzled parsley, and the sriracha mayo. But essentially, it’s the same thing, minus the newspaper cone and the skinny little fish.

I spent the day at my mom’s house today, cleaning baby calamari, and I thought it would be helpful to make a “how-to” video about the process. Although it sounds like I’m annoyed in the video, I’m merely repulsed by the eye-popping (literally) graphic nature of the job at hand. It took me all day to recover. My respect for the fishmonger, which was great to begin with, has increased exponentially. Here’s the link to the video: - mrslarkin —mrslarkin

Test Kitchen Notes

Mrslarkin's version of classic fried calamari includes Meyer lemon slices and parsley leaves for garnish, both of which are also fried. The mixture of flour and cornmeal gives the calamari a crunchy bite and light coating. Be sure to add salt right when it's still hot from the fryer. Note: Add some salt to the flour mixture for more flavor, and fry the whole parsley leaves, not the minced ones. - broccolirose

What You'll Need
  • 4 cups vegetable oil, or less if you are pan frying
  • 1 pound cleaned small calamari (squid), tubes and legs, rinsed well and drained
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup masa harina, or fine corn meal
  • 1 handful parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • 1 large Meyer lemon, or regular lemon, sliced into thin rounds (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley, for garnish (optional)
  • Kosher salt
  • Lemon wedges
  • Sriracha mayo (2 tablespoons mayo mixed with sriracha hot sauce to taste)
  1. Over medium-low heat in a medium stock pot or sauce pan, heat oil to 350 degrees F. A candy thermometer is very useful here. I like heating the oil at lower heat, rather than cranking it up and having way-too-hot oil.
  2. Cut squid tubes into ½” rings. Set aside.
  3. Mix flour and masa harina in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  4. When oil has reached temperature, carefully and quickly drop some parsley leaves in oil. The leaves will spurt, so be careful. Wear long sleeves and stand back. If you have a splatter screen, use it! Fry in small batches for a few seconds and remove with a spider strainer to a paper towel-lined cooling rack.
  5. Dredge lemon slices in flour mixture. When oil comes back up to temperature, shake off excess flour and fry 4 or 5 slices of lemon for a minute or so, until just beginning to brown. Remove to the paper towel-lined cooling rack. When oil is hot again, repeat with the remaining lemon slices, making sure not to crowd them. Continue until all the lemon slices are fried.
  6. Dredge a small handful of calamari rings and legs in the flour mixture. Using the spider strainer, shake off the excess flour and gently lower the calamari into the hot oil, making sure to separate the pieces. Fry for about 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden and crispy. Remove to the paper towel-lined cooling rack. Season generously with kosher salt. Repeat with the remaining calamari.
  7. Alternatively, you can pan-fry the flour-dusted calamari in about a 1/2" of hot oil, like my mother does, until golden brown all over. Season generously with salt. I prefer this method when I'm not frying the parsley and the lemon slices.
  8. Serve IMMEDIATELY, no dilly-dallying allowed, garnished with the frizzled parsley leaves, sprinkle of minced parsley, fried lemon slices, lemon wedges and sriracha mayo.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • gluttonforlife
  • blanka.n
  • Bevi
  • cookinginvictoria
  • Lizthechef

44 Reviews

gluttonforlife May 22, 2011
Mrs L, just wanted to let you know I did indeed sub rice flour for the all-purpose and it worked beautifully! The coating was whisper-thin, though it remained a very pale golden color. All in all, a big hit! I will post about it on my blog later this week, and of course give credit where it's due...;-)
mrslarkin May 22, 2011
So great to hear, GFL! Can't wait to see your post!! Thank you so much!
This recipe sounds great! I'll have to try making it the next time I want to fix an appetizer or something along that line. Keep providing us with recipes and tips.
mrslarkin May 17, 2011
Thank you CJL4ever! Let me know if you try it!!
gluttonforlife May 13, 2011
Mouthwatering! Do you think I would have any success substituting rice flour for the all-purpose in an attempt to make this gluten-free?
mrslarkin May 13, 2011
Thanks, gfl! I was actually thinking about rice flour, too. I've dredged fish fillets in rice flour - makes a nice crispy coating. I'm guessing it may work with the calamari. Let me know if you do try it!
blanka.n May 10, 2011
You make it sound so easy. I can't wait to try it. Looks like the perfect fried calamari recipe!
mrslarkin May 10, 2011
Thank you blanka! Let me know if you try it!
Bevi May 9, 2011
The last eye pop on the video was the easiest to watch. I am saving this!
mrslarkin May 9, 2011
Ha! Thanks, Bevi!!
Love this twist on calamari with the fried lemon slices and sriracha mayo. Yum! And the video with Nonna is great. It takes me back to when I was a child, cleaning squid on Christmas Eve morning with my grandparents. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, mrsl!
mrslarkin May 7, 2011
You're welcome, CIV!
Sorry for the duplicate postings -- my computer is acting a little buggy.
Love this twist on calamari with the fried lemon slices and sriracha mayo. Yum! And the video with Nonna is great. It takes me back to when I was a child, cleaning squid on Christmas Eve morning with my grandparents. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, mrsl!
Love this twist on calamari with the fried lemon slices and sriracha mayo. Yum! And the video with Nonna is great. It takes me back to when I was a child, cleaning squid on Christmas Eve morning with my grandparents. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, mrsl!
Lizthechef May 5, 2011
Forgot the thumbs up ...You're at 5.
mrslarkin May 6, 2011
dymnyno May 4, 2011
I love this! I remember the first time I cleaned squid and wondered if it was worth all the work....YES!
mrslarkin May 5, 2011
Thanks, dymnyno! Yes, the results are very delicious!
singing_baker May 4, 2011
I have never made calamari at home and was hoping someone would put up a good recipe. This is it! I can't wait to make it. and the sriracha mayo is genius!
mrslarkin May 5, 2011
Thanks singing_baker! It's super easy, although a little messy, as frying pretty much anything always is.
wssmom May 4, 2011
Avoiding the video (feeling squeamish today!) but the recipe sounds yummy!!!
mrslarkin May 4, 2011
Thanks, wssmom!
Midge May 4, 2011
Oh yum! Looks like all that eye-popping and teeth-pulling was worth it.
mrslarkin May 4, 2011
Thankfully, yes!
Lizthechef May 4, 2011
That video is priceless - and another fabulous recipe. Happy Mother's Day to you and to your Mom!
mrslarkin May 4, 2011
Thank you so much Liz! I will tell my mom!
lastnightsdinner May 4, 2011
LOVE this. Very similar to how I make mine, though I add a bit of semolina or fine cornmeal to the flour dredge. And aren't fried parsley/lemon the best? I love your sriracha mayo, too. And the video! You are awesome. Love love love. :)
mrslarkin May 4, 2011
Thanks so much, Jen! My mom sometimes adds cornmeal, too, but I didn't have any to test drive. Adds a tiny bit more crunch! Yum!
mrslarkin May 5, 2011
Jen, I found masa harina in the cupboard! Used it in tonight's pan-fried batch and it ROCKED! Awesome crispness. I remember asking a question a couple months ago on foodpickle about what other uses there are for masa harina and Chez Suzanne suggested using it for there you go!
boulangere May 4, 2011
Okay, it's a little early for the eye-popping experience, but your recipe and story are delightfully evocative. There is nothing like fresh, hot, crisp fried calamari - and sriracha mayo! The crowning touch.
mrslarkin May 4, 2011
Thanks, boulangere!!
aargersi May 4, 2011
OK well THAT was some sort of 7 am first cuppa coffee viewing! I love your mom and want to cook with her! Maybe something whose eyes are not in the immediate vicinity - haha. This looks delicious and I would happily eat it and maybe even tackle that little bug-eyed feller to do so.
mrslarkin May 4, 2011
sorry 'bout that, aargersi! I bet you're wide awake now! ;) Glad you like it!
drbabs May 4, 2011
You're my hero, mrslarkin.
mrslarkin May 4, 2011
*blush* Aw, shucks. Thanks, drbabs.
healthierkitchen May 4, 2011
Yum! Love the lemon slices! At the grand opening of our new WF, in an effort to get me to buy the fresh, whole squid, one of the fishmongers took me back and showed me how to clean squid, but it was so quick. I'm happy to have your mother's expertise at hand whenever I need a refresher. Plus, she's much more entertaining that the fishmonger was. Your mother is so matter of fact popping out the eyes and "teeth"!
mrslarkin May 4, 2011
Thanks, hk!! It's funny, my mom has made this dish at every Christmas Eve I can remember, but I've never actually wanted to receive the full tutorial before now. It's taken me my whole life to muster the courage. ;)
hardlikearmour May 4, 2011
This looks absolutely awesome, mrslarkin! I ? your how-to video, too, but the eye-popping is pretty disgusting.
mrslarkin May 4, 2011
Thanks so much, hla!! I'm still recovering from that part....