This is an appetizer that can be found on restaurant menus near and far these days. Some people love it, some people say “eew I don’t like squid”, some people don’t realize they’re eating squid when they eat this and love it until they know what it is. I love it either way and I’ve had many good and many bad orders of calamari in my day. It should be tender, NOT chewy and overcooked. It should have a light, crunchy well-seasoned batter that doesn’t over-power the taste of the seafood itself. When done correctly, fried calamari is a crowd-pleaser (even if people don’t know what it is they are eating!).
Why this was the first time I’d ever made fried calamari, I don’t know. I have cooked calamari other ways before. It is wonderful grilled and pan-fried besides the traditional deep-frying but that is what I set out to do this time. This was made as part of a post New Years celebration and seafood is always traditional for me around New Years so this fit the bill.
I wasn’t sure how this would stack-up compared to restaurant orders of fried calamari but I have to say it was excellent! The buttermilk and seasonings in this recipe are a perfect combination and the coating is the right thickness to add nice crunchiness without over-powering the taste of the squid itself! Calamari is usually served with a dipping source, usually marinara, but I prefer a creamy accompaniment so I served it with a peppercorn ranch dressing that I had on hand. This would be excellent with a homemade aioli I’m thinking as well. I was planning on making a homemade aioli but just ran out of time. The ranch didn’t disappoint however- this was just as good as what you’d expect at your local restaurant! If you want to get really fancy, try frying up a few mushrooms, olives or blanched veggies like cauliflower or broccoli to serve along side!
- 2 cups vegetable or canola oil
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- ½ tbsp. kosher salt + additional for seasoning after frying
- ½ tbsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 lb. squid, cleaned and cut into ½-inch rings
- Lemon wedges, optional
- Marinara sauce, ranch dressing or aioli for dipping, optional
- Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat to 375 degrees F (read with a candy or fry thermometer)
- Prepare the calamari (clean and slice)
- Pour buttermilk into a medium bowl
- In a second medium bowl, stir together the flour, salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder
- Dip squid rings into the buttermilk and then into the flour mixture
- In batches, fry the coated squid in the hot oil, turning if necessary until lightly browned
- Remove to paper towel lined plate to drain with a spider and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt while still hot
- Continue with remaining calamari, keeping earlier batches warm under aluminum foil or in a 250 degree F oven. Serve hot
- Serve with lemon wedges and dipping sauce, if desired