It was only a few years ago that I really discovered calamari. Oh I had tried it way before then, but it was hard and rubbery. And those tentacles? No thank you! But then The Husband and I were out at a restaurant, and the waitress passed by with a plate heaped with fried calamari. All of the sudden, I wanted some. They smelled amazing and something just said, “order them.” And so began my love affair with fried calamari. It was that night that I learned that true fried calamari, good fried calamari should melt in your mouth like butter. And that order did.
The Husband discovered his love for fried calamari that day too. And since then, upon occasion when we’re eating out, we try the calamari. Except for that restaurant, we have yet to find it as good. Even though we don’t live nearby anymore, we still occasionally head back to that restaurant, just for their calamari.
This past Friday, I was struggling with deciding on what to make for dinner. Fridays during Lent are meat-free. For some reason, I usually forget and am scrambling at the last minute to nix the meat-laden menu or plans we had, and trying to find quick fish and seafood substitutes. This time, we decided to have a mini seafood feast like the New Years’ Eve ones that we love so much. I’ve never made calamari before, but decided on a whim to give it a try as part of our last minute feast.
Had I known it was this easy, I would have made it a long time ago. The hardest part of the recipe? Not eating it all. Even though we both avoid the tentacles, the calamari was so good, The Husband even ate those. It was that good. And Madeline? She had her first taste of calamari. And her second. She seemed to like it, but Nick wanted no part of it.
Looking for your next OMG recipe? Need something meat-free? Whatever the reason, or just because, you can’t go wrong with this one. Crispy, delicious and melt-in-your-mouth good. I think we have the next contender for New Years’ Eve. But I guarantee you we won’t be waiting that long to have it again.
Recipe courtesy of Cate O’Malley
1 pound fresh calamari (tubes and tentacles), rinsed and sliced into rings (about 1/2″ wide)
1 cup buttermilk
1-1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground paprika
Soak the calamari in the buttermilk for at least one hour. Combine the flour with the salt, pepper and paprika in a medium bowl. Remove the calamari from the buttermilk and shake off a bit of the excess. Dredge the calamari in the flour mixture, keeping all the pieces separate. Shake off the excess flour.
Pour oil to a depth of about 2 inches in a deep pan. Heat to 365 or until bubbles form on the end of a wooden spoon handle inserted in the pan (can you tell I don’t use thermometers?). Fry calamari, in batches, for about 1 minute or until done, turning after 30 seconds. Make sure to not crowd the pan. Drain on paper towels. Serve with fresh squeezed lemon.
Cate’s Note: I like the pureness of just salt and pepper as the flavoring, but you could certainly add more to the flour to change up the seasoning … for example, lemon pepper or Old Bay would work well also.