I love fried calamari but I rarely ever order it because of how expensive it is at restaurants. I always sit there debating if I really want it bad enough to fork over the extra money for it. Usually my penny pinching ways win out and I go home wishing I had just sucked it up and ordered it. So when it came time to think about what to make for our anniversary dinner I immediately thought of calamari. I didn't care if we had chicken noodle soup for dinner, I was going to have fried calamari on the side regardless. My only problem with making fried calamari is that I don't have a deep fryer. So I started searching on the internet to see if baking calamari was even possible and I found out that it is. So we went to the commissary and I prayed that they carried calamari in the freezer section (they don't have fresh seafood here) and we found a 3 pound box for only $4. Granted it wasn't cleaned and cut all pretty but it was a steal to me and once the Mr. promised to clean the squid for me I was heading home with a huge smile on my face. Thank goodness the Mr. cleaned them for me otherwise I would have been giving them to the kitties, I don't think that I could have hacked away at something when its eyes are staring at me. Creepy.
Speaking of creepy, let me tell you about the first time I had fried calamari. I went home to visit my family just in time to catch my nieces once a year summer vacation road trip. That year my mom and sister took her to Massachusetts to go whale watching. I was lucky enough to jump off the plane, hop in the car and cruise on down to the Cape. Before our boat ride to see the whales we decided to stop at a local restaurant by the hotel and grab lunch. I am not sure who decided that trying calamari sounded like a good idea, I wouldn't be surprised if it was my sister or myself who wanted to try it. Anyways, it arrives in is crunchy golden fried glory and we just looked at each other wondering, "who's going to try it first?" All I remember was I bravely went for the tentacles and that was the hugest mistake I could have made. For some reason I didn't just immediately chew and swallow but instead I let it sit in my mouth while I tried to pick up flavors and that is when the coating came off and the suction cups were on my tongue. I quickly grabbed my napkin as fast as I could, spit it into the napkin. After that I stuck with the rings for a few years or I chewed and swallowed really fast.
Don't let this recipe scare you. It is super easy and tastes just like the restaurant version, just minus the oil. Making it yourself is well worth it. You save a ton of money and not to mention calories. I had the Mr. clean and cut all of the squid and then we put it in separate baggies to store in the freezer for later uses. There is a great video on how to clean squid Here. I took a video of the Mr. doing it but I am no whiz with editing video so I decided this video gives you all of the best angles of the process. Once you get that out of the way the time flies by when you make them. I absolutely loved these and I don't think that I will ever order them at a restaurant again. For the rest of the night I kept telling the Mr. how much I loved our dinner and the fact that for $4 I made calamari for the two of us and have more baggies in the freezer for later. You really just cannot beat that deal. I didn't measure out the dry ingredients, I just eyeballed how much calamari I had, then poured the dry ingredients into separate bowls. When you make them it will seem like you have a lot on the baking sheet but they do shrink a lot. I love to eat my calamari with marinara sauce or cocktail sauce but I have heard of people eating it with tartar sauce. So if you are not sure what you would like, just start with one of the three. If for some reason you cannot find panko, you can substistute with bread crumbs. The use of panko instead of breadcrumbs really adds an extra crunch factor, which I am all about.
- cornmeal for dredging
- 1 egg
- 1/8 c. water
- panko for dredging
- 1 lb. calamari
- cooking spray
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk egg and water in a medium sized bowl. Place the cornmeal and panko in two separate bowls. Add salt and pepper to the cornmeal.
- Toss the calamari in the cornmeal, transfer to the egg wash to coat and then toss them in the panko. Lay the calamari on the baking sheet and spray the calamari with cooking spray. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until they are golden brown. Serve hot.
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