I love calamari. It’s actually one of my favourite dishes and I often find when I’m dining out that it if they have calamari on the menu, I will order it in a heartbeat. I do attempt to try new and unfamiliar dishes but calamari does get in the way of that sometimes because I feel I just have to have it. This is not a traditional “calamari fritti” recipe, but more an Italian inspired take on how I love my calamari. Traditionally, calamari is fried in flour with very little seasoning but as I’ve had it in a variety of restaurants, I do prefer it in batter and seasoned.
My love for Italian food comes from my mother. Throughout my childhood and teenage years we would often go out for spontaneous meals at local Italian restaurants and share a pizza, calamari and a mozzarella and tomato salad. Calamari is a great dish to share and is perfect on a finger buffet or as a starter at a dinner party.
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
1kg bag of frozen squid rings (or approx. 650g raw)
2 tsp salt
1½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp garlic granules
400ml of batter
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp paprika
Garlic Mayo Dipping Sauce
4 tbsp mayo
1 tsp olive oil
½ tsp chopped garlic
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Start by making the garlic mayo. Add the mayonnaise, olive oil, garlic puree, and black pepper to a bowl and mix well. Add the salt to taste (I recommend no more than ¼ tsp)
Place the mayo in the fridge to chill.
Following the instructions on the packet, prepare 400ml of batter.
Add the black pepper, paprika and sea salt.
If you would like to add the courgettes, cut them into small strips (so they look like fries). Place in a dish with some artichokes and a few peppers.
Preheat deep fat fryer to 190°C. If you are shallow frying, preheat the oil on the highest temperature.
Add the sea salt, white pepper and garlic granules/powder to the squid rings and leave to marinate.
Check that your oil is hot enough by putting ½ tsp of batter into the oil. If it starts to fry immediately and rises to the top then you are good to go!
Dip the squid ring into the batter, making sure it is completely coated, and then drop it into the oil. Don’t add too many at once as they will stick together.
Leave it to fry for approx. 1-1½ mins until the batter is golden brown and crispy. Do not over-fry or your calamari will come out like an old car tyre.
Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel.
Continue this process and then use the same technique to fry your vegetables.
Once completed, place the calamari and vegetables on a large plate and serve with your garlic mayo and a few lemon wedges.
I like adding artichokes, courgettes and guindillas (Spanish hot peppers) as I think they complement the calamari, giving the dish some oomph. You can also try sweet peppers, green olives or pickled baby onions.
You can find the artichokes and “fragata” guindillas in the pickles/condiments section at the supermarket or you could be fancy and get some from the fresh food counter.
For the sake of time and simplicity I prefer to use a batter mix rather than make my own from scratch. You can get this in any supermarket usually in the baking section. If you don’t have time (or can’t be bothered) to make your own garlic mayo you can always find some at the supermarket.