Crispy, golden and mouth-watering tender rings of fried calamari work either as an appetizer or a light main course. Squid tends to become rubbery and tough if it's prepared improperly or cooked at the wrong temperature. Quick cooking at high heat helps tenderize it, which is why it's often served as fried calamari. You can use other tricks to further ensure your calamari develops the right texture and doesn't turn into a plate of fried rubber bands.
Things You'll Need
Flour or cornmeal
Freeze the squid overnight and thaw it out in the refrigerator the day before cooking it. Alternatively, purchase frozen calamari and thaw it out overnight in the fridge. Freezing and thawing squid before cooking it helps tenderize the meat.
Cut the squid into 1/4- to 1/2-inch rings, depending on the desired thickness. Rings thicker than 1/2 inch cook more slowly, which can result in a rubbery texture, while rings thinner than 1/4 inch are more prone to overcooking and becoming tough.
Soak the rings in a bowl of milk for 1 hour to further tenderize them. Keep the bowl in the refrigerator while the rings soak.
Drain the milk and pat the rings until they are almost, but not completely, dry, using a clean paper towel. Dredge the rings in flour or a cornmeal and flour mix so they are evenly coated. You can season the flour before dredging -- salt, pepper and cayenne all complement the flavor of calamari.
Heat 3 inches of vegetable oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit in nonstick pot. Cooking quickly at a high temperature helps keep calamari tender.
Fry the calamari in the hot oil in batches of four to six rings. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes, turning once, or until the batter becomes crisp and golden. Allow the oil to reheat to 375 F before cooking the next batch of calamari. Drain the finished squid on a paper towel before serving.
Serving immediately helps keep the calamari tender, but you can keep it warm until serving by placing the squid in an oven heated to 300 F.