Yield: 2 generous portions
Truly ‘crispy’ fried calamari is a delight! In order to achieve this result, the process to follow is first to coat the squid pieces with a corn-flour mixture, then dip in egg, and finally to coat with breadcrumbs. The result is impeccable!
- 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/4 cup organic, unbleached white flour
- 1/2 lb. prepared squid, approximately half portions of tentacles and the body cut into 1-4- to 1/2-inch wide rounds
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups dried breadcrumbs, preferable organic
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- 2-3 large eggs, organic
- 1 tablespoon Greek Seasoning (or Italian, Corsican, or Sicilian Seasoning from Merchant Spice Co.’s European Collection)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- pinch fresh lemon zest
- sea salt, to taste
- 2 cups extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, or to taste
- A fresh salad of greens (red leaf lettuce is nice), thinly sliced onion and Greek Kalamata olives ~ all dressed in a light vinaigrette of red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil (from Greece, preferably) makes a delightfully suitable accompaniment. Merchant Spice Co.’s Aleppo Seasoned Sea Salt is an amazing choice of finishing salt for this salad.
- Freshly baked bread is perfect!
Prepare the squid by soaking in salt water for approximately 5 minutes; then pat completely dry and season lightly with sea salt.
Set out 2 plates; one for the corn-flour mixture, the other for the breadcrumbs. In a wide, shallow pie plate, crack the eggs.
Now, season the corn-flour mixture with sea salt, to taste, and nutmeg.
Combine the Parmigiano-Reggiano with the breadcrumbs, along with sea salt, to taste.
Into the eggs, add the spice blend of your choice, lemon zest and sea salt, to taste.
Heat olive oil in a wok (my preferred method of frying) to approximately 350°F, or medium-high.
Begin the tedious process of coating the squid. With the cornmeal-flour mixture, carefully coat inside and out the calamari rings and tentacles, ensuring that they are entirely coated, as this is the step in the process that ensures a crispy end result. (The initial corn-flour coating absorbs moisture emitted from the squid, allowing the outer coatings of egg and finally breadcrumbs to form a crispy, light outer layer upon frying.)
Next, dredge the squid in egg and finally in the breadcrumb mixture. If you are not immediately ready to fry the squid, place the coated pieces on a baking sheet in the refrigerator to firm-up until you are prepared to fry.
Now, heat your oil. When the oil has begun to shimmer on the surface, but is not yet at a smoking stage (in other words, the perfect medium-high frying temperature), carefully place the squid, piece by piece, into the oil. I fry the rings in one batch, then the tentacles in subsequent batches, since the frying times differ slightly.
As the squid turns the quintessential golden-brown, indicative of perfectly fried foods, remove it from the oil and set it aside on paper towels until ready to serve. You may also keep it warm in an oven, set at approximately 275-300°F.
Place the squid on a serving platter, garnished with fresh lemon slices, freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, and individual servings of marinara sauce.
Alternatively, the crispy fried calamari is perfect when served with a fresh salad and spicy giardiniera.