Marinating the squid in buttermilk defeats the rubber band effect some fried calamari tends to have. It also helps create a light, crisp batter and more flavorful calamari, so the only garnish needed is a squeeze of lemon.
Special equipment: You will need a deep-frying/candy thermometer for this recipe.
What to buy: If you purchase whole, uncleaned calamari, 1 pound yields about a 1/2 pound of cleaned calamari.
Game plan: The key to crispy calamari is frying only a handful at a time. Crowding the pan makes for clumpy batter and a greasy result.
This recipe was featured as part of our Christmas Day Feast, Italian Style menu.
- Yield: 6 to 8 serving
- Difficulty: Medium
- Total: 1 hr 45 mins
- Active: 25 mins
- 1 1/2 pounds cleaned calamari, bodies cut into 1/2-inch rings and tentacles left whole
- 2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- Canola oil, for frying
- 1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
- Place calamari in a medium nonreactive bowl, cover with buttermilk, and marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Heat the oven to 200°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels.
- Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps; set aside.
- Pour 2 inches of the canola oil into a Dutch oven or a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Heat over high heat until the oil reaches 400°F on a deep-frying/candy thermometer. Remove a handful of the calamari from the buttermilk, place it in the flour mixture, and toss to evenly coat. Transfer calamari to a fine mesh strainer and gently shake any excess flour back into the bowl. Carefully place the calamari in the oil and fry until light golden brown, about 1 minute. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet using a slotted spoon, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Place the baking sheet in the oven to keep warm.
- Return the oil to 400°F and repeat the process with the remaining calamari (about 5 to 6 batches total). Serve with lemon wedges.