Frying Calamari Tips

Chef Philman George Tips & Techniques

I love to eat fried calamari that is light, crispy, tender, and above all flavourful.  It’s so sad when it’s done wrong.  All it takes is a few missed steps, and a few careless seconds to get some rubber. A lot of restaurants take pride in dusting their own fried calamari and when done right, it can easily be the star of the appetizer menu!!! 

Should I Marinate in Buttermilk???

This is personal preference.  Some like the buttermilk as the acid helps break down and tenderize the squid.  Some also like the way it helps the flour stick to the calamari.  High Liner Loligo squid is tender and does not require marinating in buttermilk.  With the 9oz pouch it stays sealed until the customer orders it, which greatly increases the shelf life of the thawed out squid. 

Frying Calamari Tips:

  • Open squid pouch and place contents in a strainer that has been placed over a bowl to catch the excess flour. Pour in the seasoned flour and shake the strainer until all the calamari is evenly coated with seasoned flour.

  • Hot clean oil minimum 350F
  • Do not overcrowd deep fryer –  Overcrowding the deep fryer will result in a rapid temperature drop.  Some deep fryers are equipped to handle more loads than others.  Start with small batches and steadily increase.  Document the limitations and relay them to the line cooks. 
  • Do not overcrowd the basket – individual calamari rings and tentacles need space to float around, to prevent clumping together.
  • Listen to the squid – When the calamari first enters the oil it will sound like rain drops hitting the roof in a heavy downpour.  Then it will settle into a rhythm as it cooks.   At a certain point the rain drops will no longer sound like a storm, and instead more like a rain shower (65-75sec).  This is when it needs to be lifted out of the oil. 
  • Taste taste taste – before the dish goes out have your line cooks get in the habit of tasting a ring or two. 
  • Inspect - Does it look light and crispy? Is it evenly dusted or has most of the dusting fallen off? 
  • Usually when the dusting has fallen off it’s a sign that the temperature dropped below 350F and did not recover fast enough.  Overcrowding was most likely the cause. 
  • It’s good practice to have the deep fryers routinly maintained by a professional.  The frequency depends on the usage.  Every 6 months is a good starting point.   
  • Before the calamari is plated, place it in a bowl with a lined with paper towel, to clear away any excess oil.  Season, taste, plate!

Happy Cooking & Plating: