I was searching for the ultimate fried squid recipe, or calamari as it was dubbed by all the restaurants around my hometown. Most times I've had the dish, the squid has been rubbery and tough, necessitating some kind of tomato sauce to get it down. For help I turned to James Peterson's What's a Cook to Do? where I pulled this helpful quote: "The secret to good fried squid is to fry it for only one minute." That seemed impossibly short, but I backed it up with this recipe from the New York Times.
Peterson is right. The rounds don't come out stunningly golden-brown, but the squid is so tender and light that it's really not an issue. They tasted like no squid I've ever had. In fact, they're so good, the marinara isn't really needed even if it does work. I chose to use it simply because it's how I grew up eating the dish. Some aioli wouldn't be bad. But honestly, with a nice squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of salt, these are set.
When is the last time you've heard that about calamari?
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 pounds squid, cleaned, bodies sliced into 1/8-inch rounds, tentacles cut into 1-inch segments
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 quarts Vegetable oil
- Kosher Salt
- Prepared Marinara for serving
- 2 lemons, cut into wedges
Preheat oven to 250°F. Pour buttermilk into a medium-sized bowl. Add the squid and mix well. Heat oil in 4-quart saucepan or Dutch oven to 360°F.
Dump flour onto a large baking dish and stir in black pepper. Add squid and toss well. Transfer to wire mesh strainer and shake over bowl to remove excess flour.
Fry the squid 1/4 at a time for no more than 1 minute, agitating with wire mesh strainer or spider. Drain the pieces in a paper towel-lined bowl and season immediately with salt. Transfer to wire rack set over rimmed baking sheet keep warm in oven while you fry remaining batches. Allow oil to return to 360°F in between batches. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and tomato sauce.