FRIDAY FISH - Fresh, Whole Calamari

This week’s Real Good Fish share is squid—very large and very fresh.


I’m thinking of a quick saute with garlic, fresh tomato and basil over pasta. Or fried calamari is always good...and my boys like anything fried. As Don is willing to master the pan of hot oil, fried calamari it is! The recipe, according to himself, must included a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning mixed into the bread crumbs.


8 squid, cleaned, peeled, butterflied—include fins and tentacles too
One ingredient per wide, shallow bowl:
1/2 cup Wondra superfine flour
1-2 beaten eggs
1 cup Panko bread crumbs, seasoned with Ranch seasoning and black or white pepper
Oil—grape seed, rice bran or other high smoke-point oil
Lemon wedges.
Gloves are handy, when cleaning squid. 

Gently pull the head away from its body, and most of the inner organs will easily release. Pull out the pen, a thin, plastic-like ‘shell’ to de-bone. Cut up one side of the body lengthwise to butterfly— scissors work well—and remove any remaining innards. Peel the skin gently from a cut edge, and it should come off in one piece. From the head, cut the tentacles off, just above the eyes, and discard the head and guts. Push out the beak from the center of the tentacles. Rinse and dry all pieces. Pull off the two small fins from the body. After gutting, cutting, and peeling, their bodies look nothing like themselves anymore.

To cook: Heat oil at medium high in cast iron or enamel frying pan or dutch oven, covering the bottom of the pan with at least 1” of oil. Dredge, dip, dredge each calamari completely in this order: first Wondra flour, then beaten egg, and finish with seasoned Panko bread crumbs. Set aside on a rack or plate. Slide breaded calamari gently into the hot oil, being careful not to drop the calamari abruptly and cause the oil to splatter. The calamari will curl into a tube. Do not crowd the pan with more than 3 or 4 pieces at one time. After one minute, turn the piece and cook one more minute. Cook no more than two minutes total. Remove from oil onto a rack set over paper towels to drain. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

Crunchy on the outside and very tender on the inside, this fried calamari tasted great! I’m guessing the Ranch seasoning and lemon had something to do with it. Other ideas: Don’t butterfly the body, slice into rings and cook, then serve with a spicy aioli. 

"Friday Fish" is brought to you by Alicia Tao.  Model, writer and serious food lover.

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