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.