Calamari Fritti

by Brian Ly (foodie from Toronto) added from his blog 
Fried squid, commonly known as calamari fritti. The word came to around 1560 which came fromcalamarius which literally meant “pertaining to a pen”, derived from calamus “a writing pen”, or what we may know as a reed pens or quill pens. The beak of the squid would be the closest resemblance of this pen and ink lesson. Of course, the only thing left in a plate of calamari excludes the beak and non-edible parts. Oh yeah, and fritti is a way of saying “fried” in Italian. Why the history lesson? No apparent reason. Maybe I just thought it would be interesting to know where this dish got its name from. Maybe I just wanted to waste a minute of your time to read my intro. Maybe you liked this intro…
What’s next you ask? Well, I can assure you that making this dish doesn’t involve going back 500 years to find some squid. This is a really simple recipe, a little messy, but well worth the effort. We’ll be using frozen calamari, thawed and cleaned. You can use fresh squid, it just involves a bit more work, but work with whatever is more comfortable and easy. Let’s start.

Start by slicing the packaged calamari into 1/2″ pieces. Trim the tentacles if necessary.

Prepare your dips and baths. Here we have milk, egg wash, panko bread crumbs, and a flour mixture consisting of flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and oregano.

Get your oil to about 2″ high. You want it to reach about 350 degrees F. Get a thermometer or keep the heat on medium to medium-low.

Start your dipping. Told you it gets messy.

If you want the calamari extra crunchy, you’ll dip them again into the egg wash and then into the panko bread crumbs.

Calamari Fritti
Prep time: 15 mins + 15 mins marinade – Cooking time: 10-15 mins.

340-500g frozen calamari, tubes and tentacles – cleaned

1 1/2 – 2 cups of flour
1 egg, beaten lightly
1 cup of milk
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp paprika
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1 cup of panko bread crumbs – if using

vegetable or canola oil

Leave the frozen calamari out in the morning to let it thaw. Or you can force-thaw it by running it under cold water – too much force though and you might turn those pieces into puree.
Slice the tubes into 1/2″ pieces. Trim any long pieces off the tentacles if you wish. Pat them dry on a towel.

Prepare the dips and bath for these guys. Get the eggs and milk into a bowl and put all the pieces in there to marinade. The milk and egg mixture will help the squid fry better, giving it a nice texture and look. Let it chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Get your flour mixture ready – flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, oregano, and garlic powder. Fill a bowl with panko bread crumbs too if you’re using.

Take the squid out of the fridge and get a pan of oil ready. Fill it up to about the 2″ mark. This really helps if you have an instant-read thermometer but it isn’t necessary (just means you have to keep an eye on it). The temperature should reach 350 degrees F, no more than 375 degrees F or else you’ll have balls of carbon goodness.

If you’re not using a thermometer, set the pan to about medium to medium-low.

To prepare the calamari, you just have to follow these simple steps:
1. Remove the calamari from the mix and egg mixture and toss them to coat in the flour mixture.
2. When the heat is reached, add them to the pan to fry.
3. If you’re using panko bread crumbs, after step 1, dip them again into the milk and egg mixture and then into the panko bread crumbs.
4. Yeah, just let them fry in there until it’s nice and golden brown. Keep an eye on smaller pieces.

As the pieces are done, move them to a plate lined with paper towel.

Add your favorite dip and chow. I’d recommend a thick dip or marinara sauce.
If you’re curious to know what dip I used in the photo, I used some pickled jalapenos that my sister made and diced them up into super small pieces and then added mayonnaise.

You can add your own spices into the flour mixture to give it your own twist. This is where part of the magic happens.
Coat the pieces as much as you can, any signs of milk or water on the pieces might make them pop in the oil.

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