Crunchy Calamari

If you crave the crunchiest calamari, put the wheat flour aside and think tempura. We’re not talking about anything heavily coated here, but a light golden brown crispy coating using rice flour. Many recipes for fried calamari call for a light dusting of flour.  However, if you want calamari to take on color and crispiness, go for this delicate batter.


4 cups peanut oil

1 lb. cleaned squid, including tentacles*

1 cup rice flour, separated

2 T cornstarch

2 ½ t baking powder

1 ½ t peanut oil

½ salt

1 t sugar


1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven to 375 degrees.

2. Slice squid bodies into 1/2–inch lengths

3. Make sure tentacles have no hard parts and slice in half lengthwise

4. Shake squid with ½ cup rice flour in a bag to coat.

5. Mix ½ cup rice flour, cornstarch, baking powder, peanut oil, salt and sugar  in a bowl.

6.  Stir in enough water, approximately 1/3 cup, to make a batter slightly thicker than heavy cream.

7. Coat squid with batter, a few pieces at a time, allowing excess to fall off, and lower into hot oil.

8.  As squid browns on one side, gently flip over until golden brown.  This will take only few minutes. Lift out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

9.  Serve immediately with lemon wedges and perhaps a dipping sauce.

Photographer Bill Brady

*If you want to clean your own squid, here’s how to do it:

Hold the squid’s body in one hand and the head with the other and gently pull the head away from the body, taking the milky white intestines with it.

Remove the tentacles from the head by cutting them off just in front of the eyes. Discard the head and separate the tentacles if they are large.

Squeeze out the beak-like mouth from the center of the tentacles and discard it.

*If you want to retain the ink sac, look among the intestines for a very small, pearly white pouch with a slight blue tinge and carefully cut it away.

Reach into the body and pull out the clear, plastic-like quill.

Pull off the two fins from either side of the body pouch. Then pull away the brown, semi-transparent skin from both the body and the fins. Wash out the pouch and body with water. Then dry the squid thoroughly to remove any water.

If you’d like to try something different from the ubiquitous marinara sauce, how about:

Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce

¼ cup sweet soy sauce

¼ t grated fresh ginger

½ t rice wine vinegar

¼ t toasted sesame oil

Dash of Sambal Oelek (optional)

Mix ingredients in a small bowl.  Thin slightly with water.

Tartar Sauce

2 large shallots, finely chopped

2 medium gherkins or cornichons, finely diced

2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 T parsley, finely chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to use.


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