My love affair with calamari started at a young age. I must have been 6 years old when I hovered by the food table at a party (best place to be, duh!). I reached out and helped myself to an onion ring. I bit down into the crunchy batter waiting for that sweet, soft onion inside but to my surprise this onion ring was elastic-like and smelled fishy. Unfazed I chewed it up, swallowed it down and carried on shovelling them into my crumb-covered mouth. I remember someone coming over to the table and I said “there’s something wrong with the onion rings but they taste yummy anyway”. They laughed and informed me that they were actually calamari. I probably nodded like I knew that already and walked away still not having a clue. But the next time my mother asked me what I wanted for dinner that’s exactly what I asked for. My poor mum.. I’ve always had expensive taste, even with after school tea. No chicken nuggets or turkey twizzlers on the menu for me. Calamari and caviar all the way, darling. I’m sure she rarely gave in to my requests but every now and then for a Friday treat we’d go to the local chippy and get fish and chips (or calamari and chips for me). The smell of the freshly fried calamari and the vinegar from the chips soaking into the paper bag is something special to behold. It’s a memory in smell form, when I eat it now I am instantly transported back to that little old chip shop. Nostalgia at its finest.
This recipe is so simple and takes very little time to prepare. Just be careful not to over-cook it, it’ll taste like eating a rubber band. Not good. I’ve added some chilli (of course, spice on everything please!) to my calamari for a little extra layer of flavour but if you’re a pussy you can leave it out. I won’t judge you (that’s a lie).
Serves 2 as a starter or 1 as a main
- 400g squid, cleaned
- 5tbsp plain flour
- 5tbsp cornflour
- 250ml milk
- 1tsp garlic salt
- Green Finger chillies (optional), sliced
- Lemon wedges
- Start by preparing the squid. Remove the tentacles from the body and put in a bowl, slice the bodies into rings about 2cm thick and add to the bowl. Pour in the milk and let rest in the fridge for at least an hour. This helps to tenderise the squid meat.
- When the squid has had enough chill time add your oil to a large saucepan, about two-thirds of the way up (or use deep fat fryer) and heat on medium high.
- In a large bowl sift together the two flours and add the garlic salt. Drain the squid from the milk and toss it in the flour mixture, coating it well.
- Test the oil by dropping a tiny bit of the flour mix in, if it ferociously sizzles you’re good to go.
- Add the squid to the oil in batches, don’t overcrowd it! The squid will be ready when it rises to the top and is crisp and lightly golden.
- Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil. Season with salt, pepper, the chillies and a good squeeze of lemon.