On an episode of “Top Chef,” Wolfgang Puck had the competing chefs make an omelet, something you would think they could do blindfolded. They all failed. An omelet may be a simple dish, but creating a really great omelet is an art form. It’s the same with fried calamari. When I see it on a menu, I almost always order it, because it’s my litmus test for the meal ahead. If the chef screws it up, I know he or she either doesn’t have the chops, or doesn’t care, and that will reflect on the other food served as well.
To me, what makes great friend calamari are three basic elements: it needs to be wild caught in the US and properly cleaned…it needs to be fried at the right temperature for the right amount of time so that it’s perfectly cooked and not greasy…and the coating needs to be light and crispy. This recipe does it for me…
1 lb. wild caught cleaned squid (thaw if frozen)
2 cups flour (I use 00 flour, but all purpose is OK, too)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup milk
1 large egg
oil, for frying ( I use non-GMO canola oil or peanut oil)
Thaw the squid and slice into bite-sized rings. In a bowl, whisk the milk and the egg together. Toss in all the squid pieces into the bowl to coat. Place the bowl in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
In another bowl, combine flour, oregano, paprika, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Fill a large pan halfway with oil…or use a deep fryer if you have one. Preheat the oil to 350 degrees.
Working in small batches, remove the squid from the milk and egg mixture, let some of it drip off, then place the squid in the flour mixture and toss to coat. Shake off any excess flour and place immediately into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 4 or 5 minutes. Serve immediately with tartare sauce, tomato sauce, hot peppers, whatever you like.
Commentary on oil: I cook almost exclusively with olive oil. But for hot frying like this recipe requires, I go with non-GMO canola oil…or peanut oil if that’s not available. Despite what you read, most oils that are hailed as “healthy:” regular canola, corn, soybean, sunflower, safflower…are bad for you. But if you fry your food at the proper temperature using good clean oil, very little oil will stay on your food.