Jun 16, 2010

Frittura di calamari, fried calamari recipe

Calamari are a very popular food in Italy. The bodies, sliced into rings and deep fried along with the curled tentacles, are a classic summer meal.

I sometimes get lazy and prefer to eat calamari alone, sparing myself the hassle of having to peel, bone and pick through small prawns, other assorted crustaceans and the (however tasty) bony reef mullet, which are all typical frittura mista staples.

Here's a recipe for a simple summer seafood frittura di calamari.

500 g (1.1 lb) absolutely fresh baby calamari, cuttlefish, squid or any small octopod mollusks
100 g (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
100 g (1/2 cup) polenta flour (cornmeal)
Peanut oil for frying
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 lemon for juice

Cut the calamari in ringlets, leaving the tentacle clusters whole. If you've caught them yourself or the fishmonger didn't clean them, be sure to trim away ink sacs (if any) and remove the indigestible parts, like eyes, innards, cartilage, beak and quill nestled in the center of the head.

There's a video HERE that can help you learn how to do this easily. 

Combine the polenta with the flour, a dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper in a gallon-size zipper seal freezer bag and add the calamari pieces. Seal closed and give the bag a vigorous shake, to coat the pieces well.

Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Remember, temperature shock is key for proper frying.

Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a frying pan, the more the better. When the oil is piping hot, but not quite smoking (that means its burning!), remove the dredged calamari from the fridge and out of the bag, frying it in small batches in the olive oil. Small batches avoid the oil to maintain its hot temperature.

Fry these small quantities for no more than a minute. The oil will bubble up and cook the calamari all over, so there will be no need to turn. The result will be a lightweight crunchy crust and a tender, sweet fleshy inside.

Rest your fried calamari to dry briefly on a paper towel, dribble with lemon juice and eat with your hands, sensually burning fingers and tongue.


  1. Wonderful!! Squid is, sometimes, very inexpensive here. I hate cleaning it but the video makes it look so easy. Thank you !

  2. Eleonora, thanks for the reminder to chill the squid before frying it. As you said, this is a very important step. I never made this by adding polenta to the flour. I will definitely remember it next time.

  3. oh, yum! i'd love to try this.


  4. mmm...love me some calamari...there is a great little italian place...

  5. RNSANE~ Great! Glad you enjoyed!
    Joe~ Polenta's coarseness, mized w/ regular flour, gives it a little more crunch. Plus it looks great too!

  6. Paz~ You should! let me know if you do!!
    Brian~ Do your kids eat calamari? MrE loves them!

  7. YummY! Great hint to chill before frying.

  8. A sweet hello from Frog Hollow Farm. I smiled when I read this post - FHFB made fried calamari for us one Friday evening when we were trying a new recipe every Friday night. It was also a way to keep the kids at home during those very interesting teenage years, they love to eat as much as we do! Although the calamari was just delicious, it took so much time for FHFB to make enough for the four of us that he swore he'd never ever make it again! Oh well...Ciao, bella!

  9. My father in law introduced me to squid back in the seventies and I have loved it ever since. Another mouth watering post Eleonora, thanks.

  10. I love Calamari deep-fried with a selection of peppers (sweet red bell, vinegary banana, perhaps a bit of jalapeno) and then accompanied by a nice marinara on the side. Lovely.

  11. Ciao, Eleonora!
    We are the family of calamari lovers. I also never used polenta, but I see the point - added crunchiness and vivid color. Will try it next time. I recently revisited my squid-cleaning skills, and patted myself on the shoulder.
    And "paranza" - I think are called "girice" in Serbian or Croatian, eaten pipingly hot, on the shore of the Adriatic, served in newspaper cones. At least, that's the way I prefer them:)

  12. Feeling very very hungry now! I used to eat calamari in Spain, where this style was called 'calamares a la romana', until they came out of my ears! So gorgeous with just a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of salt. I think that the paranza would be 'boquerones', which there were pickled raw in vinegar and then fished out ('scuze the pun) and liberally doused in olive oil. Ok. Now I'm slobbering like my Pooch when he sees a steak!

  13. I make "calamari fritti" very often. I prefer not to use cornmeal (it adds calories) just plain flour and use vegetable oil instead of olive oil for frying.

  14. I make "calamari fritti" very often. I prefer to use just a flour coating and not cornmeal (it adds to the calories) and prefer to use vegetable oil (much lighter and oil stays hotter) rather than olive oil. Buona giornata!