California Central Coast Recipes
Calamari Fritti - Fried Calamari with Spicy Marinara Sauce
Calamari Fritti, or fired calamari is one of the simplest, but at the same time most delicious seafood delicacies. The key is to use a good quality --small wild caught cuttlefish in the preparation. They are very delicate, so you usually cannot find them fresh in your seafood market, but frozen works very well.
You can usually find frozen cleaned calamari tentacles and tubes, but check the frozen seafood section of your food market, and look for a flash frozen product caught off of the Pacific Coast. These little fellas are usually whole and you must do the cleaning yourself. But don't worry, it is very easy to do as we show here in this article How to Clean Calamari
Finally when preparing the calamari, be careful not to overcook the fish. It is very delicate and will become dry and tough very quickly. That is why we add the the bread crumbs to the flour mixture, it helps to make a crispy coating with just a little frying time.
I have to admit, calamari lovers have a weakness for the small fried tentacles. They are wonderfully crispy and flavorful. However, if you are serving this to guests for their first time, as we did once, they may recoil at the site of the fried tentacles! In this case we suggest you reserve the tentacles for yourself, or let your guests work their way up to them. Once they experience the taste of the calamari, they will be willing to try it all.
Preparation time: 20 minutesCooking time: 10 minutes
1 pound Calamari cleaned
1/2 cup Milk , only if needed
1 cup Wondra or Cake Four
1/4 cup Bread crumbs
Safflower oil for frying (about 2 cups for a 6qt sauce pan)
Lemon Slices , for garnish.
The Spicy Marinara
1 cup Basic Marinara Sauce
2 to 3 cloves Garlic minced
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoons Red Pepper Flakes
1 to 2 teaspoons Lemon Juice
1 To prepare the spicy marinara, add the extra virgin olive oil, red pepper and garlic to a saute pan over medium heat. Saute until the garlic is just fragrant.
2 Add the marinara sauce and continue to heat until the sauce is hot. stir in the lemon juice, remove the pan from the heat and cover to keep warm.
3 To prepare the calamari, cut the calamari tubes into rings, about 1/4inch thick. Leave the tentacles whole.
4 Combine the flour and bread crumbs in bowl and toss the cut calamari in the flour mixture to lightly coat it. If your calamari has been bought prepared you may need to first dip the calamari in milk to add a bit of moisture for the flour to stick.
5 While you are preparing the calamari, if you are using a deep fryer, heat the oil up 350F. If you do not have a deep fryer, you can use a small (6 quart) sauce pan just as well. Fill the pot with canola oil to a depth of a couple of inches --about 2 cups of canola oil in all. Use a candy thermometer and heat the oil to 350F
6 Working in a couple batches to avoid crowding, add the floured calamari and fry until just lightly golden --about 3 to 4 minutes depending upon the oil and thickness of the calamari. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel or napkin covered platter to drain.
7 To serve, pile the fried calamari attractively on a warm serving platter. Lightly salt the calamari with sea salt and a few squeezes of fresh lemon to taste. Place the warm spicy marinara sauce in small dipping bowl on the platter with slices of fresh lemon.
If you are serving the calamari with the marinara as a dipping sauce, to keep the Italian flair, serve the calamari with young non-oaked Aglianico, Sangiovese or Zinfandel.