It seems that fried foods have a special place in most of the worlds culinary traditions and Italy is no exception. Travel to any southern or northern province in Italy and you’re bound to find an abundance of frittura or fried delicacies from expertly fried fish (such as the ubiquitous Fried Calamari or Frittura di Calamari) to arancini, mozzarella in carrozza, and crocchette. Fried calamari (made from both the body and tentacles of squid) is superb when done well and worthy only of the trash receptacle when cooked poorly.
Our fried calamari recipe features fresh squid, salt, freshly cracked pepper, dried oregano, and flour (no breadcrumbs). Most of the work involved in making fresh calamari is centered on cleaning the squid and thereafter frying in small batches. Here’s our easy recipe and if you’re intimidated about cleaning squid read our article on grilling fresh squid (with a link to a video):
- 2-3 pounds of whole squid (fresh, not frozen, with tentacles)
- 2-3 cups of flour
- Kosher salt
- Freshly cracked pepper
- Dry oregano
- 2-3 cups of vegetable oil (for frying)
- Clean the calamari and dice the body into ½ inch rings. The tentacles should be cut from the body and prized (they're the best part). In a large fry pan, begin heating the vegetable oil on medium heat. After cleaning and cutting the fish, pat try with a paper towel and set aside.
- In a large bowl add the flour, salt, pepper, and oregano and mix well. Add the fish to the flour and mix well with your hands. Remove any excess flour from the fish and place a small amount in the hot oil and begin frying.
- Fry for 3-5 minutes depending on the size of the squid pieces (some folks are fanatic about oil cooking temp when frying but I find if you set the pan to medium and test with a few pieces you'll get the hang of frying in no time). Do not overcook squid as it will turn rubbery very quickly. If you're unsure about whether the fish is cooked you should remove the fish immediately when a bit of color starts to show on the exterior of the squid rings and tentacles. Continue frying in small batches and removed to a large plate with plenty of paper towels. Season with salt immediately.