Most diners are familiar with the rings of fried calamari that appear on many an appetizer menu. Calamari steaks -- flat, pressed pieces of the shellfish otherwise known as squid -- are a lesser-known version of the delicacy. Because calamari is quite perishable, freeze it if you're not planning to cook it the day you buy it. It's safe to freeze calamari steaks for quite some time as long as they are properly stored.
The firm, transparent flesh of calamari is delicate and requires protective packaging in the freezer. Before you freeze the fish, check the color of the skin. An ivory flesh means the squid is fresh; yellow coloring can indicate that the calamari is older. Wrap the steaks in secure packaging, such as plastic wrap, butcher paper or aluminum foil. Place the seafood in an airtight plastic bag in the freezer for as long as three months. Freezing for longer periods of time may alter the flavor.
Buying Frozen Calamari
Calamari freezes well with a minimal risk of texture and flavor changes after thawing. It is often available in the supermarket freezer section. Bring cold bags or ice packs to transport frozen calamari steaks to your home. Thawed calamari perishes within a day or so if not cooked. Choose packages that are well within the "sell by" date. Avoid frozen squid that is encased in ice crystals, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Ice can indicate old shellfish or calamari that has been thawed and refrozen.
Thaw calamari steaks in the refrigerator overnight. Resist the temptation to speed up the thawing process by leaving the package at room temperature. Foods that thaw at room temperature have a higher risk of being contaminated with harmful bacteria that can make you sick. If you're short on time, place the frozen calamari in an ice water bath.
Calamari steaks have a delicate, almost sweet flavor. Prepare squid with mild sauces and herbs that won't overpower it. Pan fry calamari steaks in lemon butter to bring out the taste of the sea. Or bread the steaks and serve them with a spicy marinara sauce for a zing of flavor.