I've always said that the simplest things to make are perhaps sometimes the hardest.
Because they have technique to them.
And in some ways it can be really easy - follow the rules and you'll succeed each and every time. But you know us, we're muggles and that means some times we get lazy.
With fried calamari, do neither and every restaurant in town is going to want to hire you as their next fried calamari guy or gal because you'll really be that good.
When we think of fried calamari, what are some of the challenges we face?
- a big one is that the flour coating simply falls away to the bottom of the pan leaving the calamari naked.
- the second is tough and soggy calamari.
There are two big rules of thumbs - gospel if you will and they are (drum roll...),
1) Use a flour coating that is finer than all purpose flour and therefore a combination of cornstarch and WONDRA (a enriched flour available in a blue can made by General Mills) or a fine barley flour does the trick.
2) The temperature of the oil - 375 deg F. No two ways about it and I mean even between batches.
You know how it is, you'll make a perfect 1st batch but come the second, you don't want to stand around waiting for the oil to heat back up to 375 but you've got to do it!
It has to do with the critical temperature the calamari must reach at which point it is perfectly succulent and that requires an oil temp of 375 deg F.
Adding the cool calamari to hot oil means that there is a transfer of heat that takes place which means the calamari draws heat from the oil thereby cooling the oil. So you must get it back up.
This requires a candy/deep frying thermometer because you can't do this by guess work. You've got to be that accurate.
That being said, once you've got your flour, a sieve, a candy/deep frying thermometer and hot oil, you're all set. This economical cephalopods will become a favorite and you won't get enough of it - at family dinners, for guests and just for yourself.
And you'll be proud. Because perfectly fried calamari deserves accolades.