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Author Notes: Fresh squid, lightly floured and fried, is such a perfect thing that suggesting much tinkering seems heretical. But I urge you to try this variation: the combination of the briny olives and the tender squid is spectacular. The amounts listed below are all quite flexible. —Emily
Serves 4 as an appetizer
For the calamari
- 2 pounds squid, cleaned, tubes and tentacles (the smaller the better)
- 1 cup Castelveltrano olives, pitted and halved (Cerignola olives work as well)
- 1 cup flour (approximately)
- salt to taste (be generous)
- fresh ground pepper (be generous)
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- canola oil for frying
Optional garlic lemon yogurt sauce
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 small clove garlic, minced or pressed
- 1/3 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- For the garlic lemon sauce: mix all of the ingredients and let sit in the fridge while you prepare the squid. This is totally optional but quite delicious.
- Cut squid into thin rings, making sure to look out for any remaining bits of quill. To prevent water from accumulating, cut the tips of the squid so that they lay flat. Rinse well, and then spread on a dishtowel to dry.
- Get a couple inches of oil heating on the stove and preheat your oven to 150-200 degrees. Have a cookie sheet in the oven with some paper towels and a cooling rack ready to go.
- In a paper bag-- or a bowl-- mix the flour, halved green olives, salt, pepper, and cayenne. When the oil is ready, add the squid to the flour mix and mix to combine (shake if using a bag). You might need to add more flour, depending on the moisture levels. You want everything lightly coated with flour. Don't let the mixture sit too long or it will get soggy.
- When the oil is ready-- it should immediately sizzle when a piece of squid is added-- add the squid and olives in a few batches. Be sure to shake off excess flour before adding them to the oil and don't overcrowd the pan. The squid will cook very quickly: 2 minutes or so. When it is golden, use a spider to scoop out the squid, shake off excess oil, and put it in the oven on the rack to stay warm (using the rack helps ensure the squid won't get soggy). Repeat until everything is fried. Serve immediately with the garlic lemon yogurt sauce (or sauce of your choice... or no sauce) and lemon wedges.