At last, spring has finally sprung! I love the month of May, and I especially love all the fresh seafood that arrives with it. Early in the month, one particular species will receive the lion’s share of my attention. The lowly squid.
Doryteuthis pealeii is the Latin name for these tasty little sea monsters. Where I live on Cape Cod, longfin inshore squid make a massive migration into inshore waters in early May, as soon as the water temperature reaches a steady 50 degrees. When they arrive, they feed intensely, they mate, and then they die.
While they are around in great abundance, most of the resident apex predators partake in the buffet of fresh, tasty squid, including myself.
Fried calamari is one of my favorite ways to eat them. It is a bit of work, and you’ll likely make a big mess in the kitchen, but it’s worth it. Following is my go-to recipe.
Video: How to Clean Squid
1 pound cleaned squid, tubes, and tentacles
1 cup rice flour
1 cup flour
2 teaspoons white pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Canola oil for frying
Pickled banana peppers
Cut the squid tubes into 1/2-inch rings and cut the tentacles in half lengthwise. Whisk the egg into the buttermilk and add the squid. Let it soak in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour so the buttermilk tenderizes the squid.
Meanwhile, whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Remove the squid from the buttermilk mixture and strain it through a colander. Add the dry ingredients to a gallon zip-close bag, add in the squid, and vigorously shake it until well coated. Toss it in the freezer for about 20 minutes (which helps the breading stick better and chills the squid to help prevent overcooking).
Add the oil to an electric deep fryer until it’s about halfway full. Set the temperature to 365 degrees and wait until the oil comes to temp.
Meanwhile, add the squid to a large bowl and toss it around to make sure it’s all covered in flour (add more flour if needed). Set the pieces on a cookie sheet, making sure they don’t clump together.
Once the oil is hot, add a handful of squid at a time to the frying basket and immerse it in the oil. Cook for exactly 90 seconds. Do not try to get it golden brown because, by that point, it will be overcooked and rubbery.
Once cooked, place the squid on a metal drying rack and sprinkle with a bit of salt. Fry remaining squid and set aside. Add the banana peppers to the remaining flour mixture and toss until coated. Fry the pepper rings for about 2 minutes. Place the squid on a platter and top with the fried pepper rings. Garnish with lemon wedges and a dipping sauce of your choice.
When cooked properly, squid should have a texture like cooked shrimp. If it’s chewy and rubbery, something has gone horribly wrong.