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: http://t.co/hT9spjV - 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
two or more
vegetable oil, or less if you are pan frying
cleaned small calamari (squid), tubes and legs, rinsed well and drained
masa harina, or fine corn meal
handful parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)
large Meyer lemon, or regular lemon, sliced into thin rounds (optional)
minced parsley, for garnish (optional)
Sriracha mayo (2 tablespoons mayo mixed with sriracha hot sauce to taste)
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.
Cut squid tubes into ½” rings. Set aside.
Mix flour and masa harina in a medium bowl. Set aside.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Serve IMMEDIATELY, no dilly-dallying allowed, garnished with the frizzled parsley leaves, sprinkle of minced parsley, fried lemon slices, lemon wedges and sriracha mayo.