Need help with cooking squid

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David Staten

Assistant Cook
May 15, 2002
I have tried to cook fired calamaria and have repeatly failed.
All the recipes that I have followed calls to flour the rings and deep fry - simple right? Well, the flour doesn't stick to the squid and end up burn't flour on the bottom of pan and rubberband calamaria. What am I doing wrong?
Hi David!

Welcome to discusscooking. Let's's my thoughts on fried calamari:

If cooking batter-dipped rings you need to cook quickly and use high heat. The calamari rings should be fried for just under a minute or so. If fried longer they WILL be chewy. I cut mine in maybe 1/2" rings versus smaller. After I cut the squid I place the rings in the freezer for about 5 minutes or so (this was told to me by a local restaurant who has the BEST fried calamari so who am I to question!!! :D Actually, I put my onion rings in ice water before dipping in batter and frying - it's probably the same principle, the cold keeps the food from absorbing so much of the oil.

Add enough oil in a skillet to measure 2 inches and heat to 375°F. Make sure that the calamari can sit on the bottom of the pan. This way the dry ingredients won't fall off. The hot oil will cook it quickly, also helping with this. Use a thermometer to be sure oil is hot enough. Mix equal parts of cornmeal and flour and then add salt and pepper and a little garlic powder. I have also added oregano and basil (both dried) to the flour mixture and it was quite yummy too. Mix these ingredients together in a bag or bowl, remove calamari from freezer and add to dry mixture, mixing or shaking well to coat. Try using the bag first, that way you can sling it around and shake it and really work that flour mixture into the rings. If you notice that the flour/corn meal mixture hasn't adhered to the rings - shake some more. Add the calamari to the oil and cook for about 45-50 seconds. The calamari should be a golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels.

**NOTE - you want to either use a vegetable oil or peanut oil. Do NOT use olive oil as you cannot heat it as high as the other oils. Also, you want something flavorless to cook in. Also, if using fresh calamari be sure you are scraping the skin off.

We like to serve ours with a chunky tomato/spaghetti sauce and sliced sweet banana pepper rings. I just use Hunt's Traditional spaghetti sauce and add roughtly chopped canned tomatoes (no juice so drain well) to it and heat together slowly and let it thicken. YUM - take fork, pick up calamari, dip in tomato sauce, top with banana pepper.......heaven!

I sure hope this helps a little. Let us know how it turns out next time you cook it. If you are worried about cooking the squid for such a short time just remember that I eat it raw!!! Test one handful with cooking longer if you are uncomfortable and see how it turns out. You can also just use flour. Experiment and see what you like best.

kitchenelf said:
**NOTE - you want to either use a vegetable oil or peanut oil. Do NOT use olive oil as you cannot heat it as high as the other oils. :

this is not quite accurate, you can safely fry with olive oil up to but not over 375 (but 350 to 360 is the ideal temp for olive oil frying) and olive pomace to 395-400 (depending on the brand) this is very common in italy and Spain, but Americans are too pretentious about the cost of olive oil to even try. If you have an accurate fryer big enough to fry maintain the heat once you put something in it olive oil is awesome.

David> it sounds like your problem is multifold here. #1 you are cooking the calamari too long, about 45 seconds is just about right. #2 how much are you trying to fry at a time in how much oil? This is the second pitfall most home coks have is they over fill their small fryer. A good rule of thumb is think about how much oil is in your fryer and only fry 1/8 as much food as you have oil at any given time without a significant drop in temperature. It is this drop in oil temp. #3 unless you are monitoring your fryer with a "GOOD & ACCURATE" external thermometer you likely are not frying at the temp you wanted to fry at, most companies that make home fryers have a margin of error on their thermometer of plus or minus 35 degrees. Last but not least your coating method be improved. It is not necessary to freeze the rings this is more for presentation as the rings will be a little dryer internally and hold a ring shape better if they are thatway when they hit the oil, but if you follow the above steps this won't be a problem at all. The method i recomend for you to follow is this soak your calamari or what ever you are going to fry in a liquid, i like milk, milk and vinegar or buttermilk for a little while less than 5 minutes, for calamari I woul go with just mlk. then roll it in flour, then a wet ingredient like beaten egg or more milk and then in more flour or bread/cracker crumbs or skip the second wet/dry stage and go straight to a batter like tempura or beer batter.

follow these rules when ever you fry and you will have perfect results every time with what ever you deep fry.
Hi Brad,

Thanks for the feedback - I too fry with olive oil.:D

I know it's "not quite" accurate but I say it as a precaution. Eventually, when someone gets more experienced at frying and knowing what they like, etc., they will figure that out. In the meantime, I don't want anyone to ruin their food.

Thanks for popping in!!!:cool:

David, we use a beer batter a lot. I just use equal parts of flour and beer i.e., 1 cup flour, 1 cup beer, etc. Be sure and salt right after removing from oil.
Beer Batter tip:
You'll get a better, lighter, crispier crust if you allow the flour/beer mixture to set at least an hour, no more than about 3 time for the yeast in the beer to "do it's thing"
Norma - you are definately the other half of my memory. I forgot all about that sitting time. I heard 3 hours was great - I'm usually lucky to squeeze in an hour by the time I know what we're having for dinner *G*. :rolleyes:

You stick close to me - don't let me stray too far and keep the leash short!!!!:p
Elf, three hours IF you let it sit in the refrig...........I let it set that long at room temperature, and it went "flat"......:(
And it's just plain not GOOD if you try to use it right after blending. This tip is not from a recipe book. This is from experienced DISASTERS! LOL!
Beer batter makes the absolute BEST onion rings!
Norma, you are right about those onion rings. That what we used beer batter for the last time. I swear I heard you let it sit on counter for 3 hours. I'm glad I didn't have that much time!!!!!! Boy that stuff was good!!!!! I had some left over the next night, along with some onions already sliced. Because I guess the onions were really cold they held up better to the frying. I think they melted away to nothing the night before. And also, the next time I will slice them really thick!!!!!!
REALLY cold onions seem to work best. Now if someone has tips on FRIED OKRA! THAT one always fails me, no matter what method I try.
the reason cold and frozen food works better for frying is two fold, the fact that it is frozen or very cold means it is going to take longer for the center to come up to temp which allows the outside time to get crispy and the inside to fully cook, many items if they were done fresh out of the batter would burn on the outside and before the center was ever done, this s esspecially true of things like mushrooms, cheese sticks onion rings okra ice cream and corn nuggets. the second reason for having frozen items when frying is more scientific, frying drives the water to the surface of the food and if over cooked totally replaces the water content in the food if it is overcooked. The water first must melt then becomes steam both of the processes create air pockets inside the food and these air pockets are what cause the food to float. If you continue to cook the food the oil will eventually seep into the food and cause it to sink to the bottom. in the case of Elf's onions i would say the onions were too thin and the oil which seeped into them caused the weaken membranes simple to burst.

norma> how are you doing your okra? I blanche the full pod then shock them in cold water cut them and let them dry out on a sheet pan lined with a paper towel. Then I use the the double breading method i described before. Soak them in a liquid, i prefer an an equal part milk, water, and vinegar solution (i try for about an hour to keep the slime down), roll them in your seasoned flour, shake off the excess, dip them in an egg wash and then a mix of bread flour and fine ground corn meal (if you can't get finely ground corn meal throw it in your food processor for a minute or so on full speed and slowly add the bread flour. Then I stick them in the freezer until frozen and fry them at 350 degrees until they float. Remember don't over fill the fryer with food and make sure you really are cooking at the temp it says you are by checking it with a thermometer.
Norma, I have always just used the smaller okra pods and cut. I use a mixture of corn meal and flour seasoned with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Dip in dry mixture, dip in egg, re-dip in dry mixture. This has always worked for me. I have never taken the time like Brad does to blanch and soak. I don't think my family could watch while I did all those things! They're too impatient for their okra!!!! I cook them quickly so as not to "loose" them.

I was out of flour one time and the okra ready to go - all I had was a package of pancake mix - YUMMERS!!!!! It worked like a dream. I just used that like I would the flour then used the egg the same.

I'm going to remember about freezing or cooling things like onion rings - that's for sure. I'll try that with my okra next time but I have had pretty good luck.
Cooking calamari

I am a long time Italain American chef,most of what I read here is pretty much correct.Fast cook calamari high heat,in and out.thy cook that fast. In a sauce add them after you colse the heat,let the pot sit for about three min.,very tender. For a salade, let salted water come to boil (close heat) put in calamari let stand for about three min. drain and let cool five min.add a little lemon and oil (olive) refrigate till your ready to use .There are so manny ways to cook or use calamari. If you need more ideas . Chef Victor.....res7a8ke@yahoo
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