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Calamari

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Fried calamari

Fried calamari

Foodcollection / Getty Images

In the culinary arts, calamari is a recipe prepared with squid, usually (but not always) battered and deep-fried.

Calamari is the Italian word for squid (singular: calamaro), and recipes for fried calamari are found in a number of Mediterranean cuisines.

Fried calamari is usually served as an appetizer, garnished with lemon and parsley and served with some sort of dipping sauce. Typical sauces for calamari include marinara sauce, flavored mayonnaise or aioli, tartar sauce or yogurt.

In addition to frying, calamari can also be sauteed, grilled, boiled or braised.

The trick with calamari is to either cook it very quickly (i.e. not more than three minutes), or for a very long time, (i.e. three hours or longer). Anything in between and the calamari can turn out very tough and rubbery. For example, it can be simmered in a tomato sauce until tender and then served with pasta.

To prepare calamari, the squid has to be be cleaned. This involves removing the head, viscera and inner cartilage (called the quill), something called the beak, along with the fins and skin. The tentacles and body are the edible portion.

Here's a video that shows how to clean a squid.

Usually, the squid body is sliced crosswise, which yields the characteristic calamari rings that are then prepared as described above. But the body can also be split and flattened out to produce what's called a calamari steak.

It's a good idea to score the steak in a diamond pattern to help keep it flat. And of course, cook it quickly over high heat.

Alternate Spellings:
  • Kalamari (Greek)
  • Calamares (Spanish)
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