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Kevin Curry

Calamari – Squid

what is calamari

Today, I’m diving deep into the delicious world of calamari – that crispy, tender seafood delight that never fails to impress. If you’ve ever found yourself pondering “what is calamari?” while perusing a menu or contemplating how to prepare it yourself, then you’re in the right place.

In this article, we’re going to explore everything you need to know about squid – from its origins in the deep blue sea to the secrets of cooking it to perfection.

So whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen newbie, I guarantee you’ll come away with a newfound appreciation for this cephalopod sensation. Let’s get cooking!

What Is Calamari?

At its core, calamari is simply squid – a fascinating creature that roams the ocean depths. Squid belong to the cephalopod family, along with octopus and cuttlefish, and they’re known for their sleek bodies, tentacles, and jet propulsion that propels them through the water with impressive speed and agility. 

When you order it at your favorite joint, what do you get? Crispy, golden rings or strips of squid, fried to crispy perfection. It’s a taste sensation, with each bite offering a tantalizing mix of crunch and tenderness that’s impossible to resist.

But hold onto your chef’s hat – there’s a whole ocean of culinary possibilities beyond fried squid. Grill it, sauté it, braise it, stew it – the options are as endless as the sea itself. With its neutral flavor, it is like a blank canvas, ready to soak up whatever flavors you throw its way.

And let’s not forget about the nutritional perks. Low in fat, low in calories, but high in protein – it’s like the holy grail of seafood. Whether you’re watching your waistline or just craving a tasty treat, it has got your back.

While calamari technically refers to squid, octopus can sometimes be mistaken for calamari too. Octopus has a similar texture when cooked, which can lead to confusion, especially on menus. So, next time you order it and get something a bit chewier than expected, you might just be munching on octopus instead!

So there you have it – it isn’t just seafood; it’s a culinary adventure waiting to happen. In the next section, we’ll dive into the kitchen and cook up some squid magic. Get ready to impress your taste buds and wow your dinner guests – it’s squid time, baby!

Why Is Squid Called Calamari?

Now, about that name – “calamari.” It’s Italian for squid, and boy, do the Italians know their seafood. For generations, it has been their culinary secret weapon, thanks to its mild flavor and melt-in-your-mouth texture that’s just begging to be cooked up in a storm of flavors.

how to cook calamari

How to Cook Calamari

It’s time to get down to business and cook up some magic right in your own kitchen! Don’t worry if you’re not a seasoned chef – I’ve got you covered with these simple steps to deliciousness. 

First up, we’re diving into the classic: fried calamari. But if you’re looking for something a bit lighter, stay tuned for some healthier recipes coming your way.

  1. Prep Like a Pro:

Before we start cooking, let’s make sure our squid is squeaky clean. Take those whole squid and give ’em a good rinse under cold water. Once they’re nice and clean, it’s time to slice ’em up into rings or strips. Aim for uniform pieces so they cook evenly – that’s the secret to perfect squid every time.

  1. Batter Up, Flavor Up: 

Now, let’s whip up a killer batter. Grab a bowl and mix together some flour, salt, pepper, and whatever seasonings tickle your taste buds. Want a little kick? Throw in some paprika or garlic powder. Dip each piece of calamari into the batter until they’re nice and coated – we’re talking full-on flavor explosion here!

  1. Fry Baby Fry: 

Heat up some oil in a skillet or fryer until it’s sizzling hot. Carefully drop in your battered calamari, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. We want ’em to get nice and crispy, so give ’em a couple of minutes to work their magic. Once they’re golden brown and crispy, scoop ’em out and let ’em drain on some paper towels.

  1. Season and Serve with Style: 

Now, here’s where the magic happens. Give your crispy calamari a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice – trust me, it takes ’em to the next level. Serve ’em up hot with your favorite dipping sauces on the side – marinara, aioli, tartar sauce, you name it.

We’re just scratching the surface here. Calamari is a culinary chameleon – you can grill it, sauté it, stuff it – the possibilities are endless! So don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with different flavors and techniques.

Here are a few healthy squid recipes to get you started.

calamari recipes

12 Healthy Calamari Recipes

  1. Healthy Puttanesca-Style Sautéed Squid
  2. 10-Minute Garlic Butter Calamari Recipe (Stir-Fry!)
  3. Spicy Two Minute Calamari
  4. Extra Virgin Olive & Sauteed Calamari
  5. Oven baked calamari rings
  6. Easy Calamari Recipe with Garlic Lime Sauce
  7. Fried Calamari (Air Fryer, Paleo, Gluten free)
  8. Grilled Squid With Garlic, Chili & Parsley
  9. Calamari Mediterranean
  10. Chilled Calamari Salad with Lemon and Parsley
  11. 10-Minute Roasted Calamari Pasta
  12. Healthy Marinated and Grilled Calamari Recipe

How Do You Cook Calamari So It’s Tender?

It can get tough and chewy if it’s cooked for too long, so we’re aiming for a quick and snappy cooking method. 

Think high heat and short cook time. Whether you’re frying up a batch or throwing it on the grill, you want to give your calamari just enough time to turn opaque and curl at the edges – that’s when you know it’s ready.

Oh, and here’s a little trick: before you start cooking, try marinating your calamari in a mix of lemon juice or vinegar and oil for about 15-30 minutes. This helps tenderize the squid and adds a punch of flavor that’ll knock your socks off.

More Top Tips for How to Cook Calamari

Now that we’re geared up to tackle calamari like a boss, let me share some top tips to ensure your squid dishes turn out absolutely stellar every time:

  1. Keep it Dry: 

Moisture is the enemy of crispy squid. Before you start breading your squid, make sure it’s completely dry. Use paper towels to pat it down and absorb any excess moisture. This will help the batter adhere better and ensure that your calamari fries up nice and crispy, whether you’re frying, grilling, or sautéing.

  1. Hot Oil, Quick Fry: 

If you’re frying up your calamari, make sure your oil is sizzling hot before you start. Aim for around 350°F (175°C) – that’s the sweet spot for crispy perfection. And remember, it cooks fast, so don’t leave it in the oil for too long or it’ll end up tough and rubbery. Keep it short and snappy for the best results.

  1. Don’t Overcrowd the Pan: 

Whether you’re frying, grilling, or sautéing, it’s important not to overcrowd the pan. Give your calamari plenty of space to swim around and get crispy. If you add too much squid at once, the temperature will drop, and you’ll end up with unevenly cooked calamari. Fry in batches instead for that golden-brown goodness.

  1. Season Right Away: 

As soon as your calamari is done cooking, hit it with a sprinkle of salt and any other seasonings you fancy. This helps the flavors really pop and stick to the hot calamari. Whether you’re going for classic salt and pepper or kicking it up with some spicy seasoning, don’t hold back – now’s the time to amp up the flavor.

  1. Serve Immediately: 

Last but not least, it is best enjoyed hot and fresh out of the pan. Don’t let it sit around for too long or it’ll lose that crispy goodness. As soon as it’s done cooking, serve it up and dig in! Whether you’re enjoying it as an appetizer or main course, fresh calamari is always a crowd-pleaser.

With these tips up your sleeve, you’ll be cooking up like a pro, no matter which method you choose. So get ready to impress your taste buds and wow your dinner guests – it’s squid time, baby!  

FAQ: Calamari, What Is It? 

  1. Is Calamari Octopus?

Nah, not quite. While both of these ocean dwellers are cephalopods, calamari is all about squid, my friend. So, no need to worry about mixing up your marine munchies!

  1. Can I Grill Calamari?

Absolutely! Grilled squid is a game-changer. Toss your cleaned squid with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then throw it on a hot grill for a few minutes on each side until cooked through with those perfect grill marks. Serve it up with lemon wedges and a drizzle of balsamic glaze for pure magic.

  1. What’s the Best Way to Thaw Frozen Calamari?

For the safest thawing, transfer it from the freezer to the fridge and let it thaw overnight. If you’re in a rush, speed things up by placing it in a bowl of cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes to keep things fresh.

  1. How Do I Know When Calamari Is Cooked?

Keep a close eye on it – it cooks fast! When done, it’ll turn opaque and firm up slightly. For fried squid, aim for that golden brown and crispy exterior. If grilling, look for those beautiful grill marks and a hint of char.

  1. Can I Use Calamari in Pasta Dishes?

Absolutely! It is pasta’s best friend. Sauté it up with garlic, tomatoes, and herbs for a simple yet flavorful sauce. Or go fancy with lemon, capers, and white wine for something truly exquisite. The options? Endless!

  1. How Long Does Cooked Calamari Last in the Fridge?

Plan to enjoy it within 2-3 days if stored in an airtight container. Just let it cool completely before you pop it in the fridge, and always trust your gut when it comes to food safety.

  1. What Is in Calamari?

It is all about squid – typically the body tube and tentacles. Slice ’em up into rings or strips, and you’re ready to cook up a storm.

  1. What Is Calamari Made Of?

It’s all about squid! Whether it arrives swimming in sauce or dipped in batter, it is purely squid.

  1. What Is Fried Calamari?

Squid rings or strips coated in batter or breadcrumbs and fried to crispy perfection. Battered squid is appetizer bliss!

  1. What Part of the Squid Is It?

The body tube and tentacles – the prime real estate for squid goodness.

  1. What Is Calamari Steak?

Thick slices of squid body tube, perfect for grilling or sautéing. It’s a tasty twist on traditional calamari.

  1. What Animal Is Calamari?

It comes straight from the sea, courtesy of squid.

  1. What Fish Is It?

Here’s the scoop: calamari isn’t fish at all! It’s squid.

  1. What Is Calamari Rings?

These are slices of squid body tube cut into circular shapes – a classic form of it that’s perfect for frying.

  1. What Kind of Squid Is Calamari?

It can come from various squid species, including Loligo and Illex – they’re all equally delicious!

  1. What Is Calamari Fritti?

Ah, the Italian way to say fried squid! It’s a culinary delight served up with a tempting dipping sauce.

  1. What Is the Difference Between Calamari and Octopus?

While they’re both cephalopods, calamari is squid. Squid and octopus differ in appearance, texture, and flavor. It has a milder taste and a more tender texture compared to octopus, which tends to be chewier.

  1. What Country Is Squid From?

Squid is a global sensation, but it is originally from Mediterranean cuisine, particularly in Italy and Greece.

  1. What Is a Good Dipping Sauce for Calamari?

Marinara sauce, aioli, tartar sauce, or lemon garlic mayo – take your pick! These dipping sauces complement it like a dream.

  1. Is It Halal?

The verdict on calamari’s halal status depends on interpretations of Islamic dietary laws. While some consider it permissible (halal) as it comes from a type of mollusk, it’s always best to consult with your religious authorities for guidance.

  1. Is Calamari Pig Anus?

Absolutely not! Let’s clear the air here. Calamari is all about squid, nothing else. So, rest assured, you’re diving into the ocean’s bounty, not anything else.

It’s clear this oceanic gem offers endless possibilities in the kitchen! Whether you’re grilling it up, tossing it into pasta, or enjoying it fried to golden perfection, it promises to tantalize your taste buds and wow your guests. 

For more culinary inspiration and healthy cooking wisdom, head over to Fit Men Cook – where flavor and fitness collide in the most delicious ways. So, what are you waiting for?


Hey, I'm Kevin

My name is Kevin. My life changed when I realized that healthy living is a lifelong journey, mainly won by having a well-balanced diet and maintaining an active lifestyle.

By experimenting in the kitchen and sharing my meals on Tumblr, I learned healthy eating is not boring! By making a few adjustments to my favorite foods, I could design a diet that could help me achieve my wellness goals while satisfying my desire for BANGIN food! 😅 Now I try to help people around the world realize that same level of freedom in eating regardless of budget. Welcome, let's #DemocratizeWellness together!


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