Salt and Pepper Calamari

05FryerbfLOI got this really cool, little, deep fryer as an early Christmas gift from some friends who are hittin’ the road today for festivities o’ the season elsewhere, and felt the need to take it out for a spin.

I had talked with our friend Don about mebbe doing some hush puppies, but there was a bag of squid in the freezer, a recipe from Nigella Lawson I’ve been wanting to try again, and then there was that lovely jar of cocktail sauce just sitting in the fridge…


Squid it is.

I say that I wanted to try the recipe again because I had made it once, according to Nigella’s instructions, in a skillet, and it was good, but a might salty. Now I was armed some fresh peanut oil, taste for a little something cephalopod, and a brand-y new deep fryer to cook it in.

•Approximately 2 cups peanut oil (to come about 1/2-inch up in a frying pan) – my fryer took a full 32 oz. bottle
•2 tbsp sea salt
•2 tbsp black peppercorns
•1/3 cup cornstarch
•18 ounces baby squid, cut into rings, tentacles left unchopped
•Lemon, for squeezing

SPCalamariBagBFLOCombine the salt and peppercorns and give ’em a good whack to break them down a bit – using a mortar and pestle (as Nigella did), or in the plastic freezer bag with a meat mallet, as I did. Ermmm, if you DO whack ’em in the bag, you will more than likely need to put that bag in another bag before adding the cornstarch. Just sayin’.

However you’ve whacked ’em, combine the salt and pepper with the cornstarch in a freezer bag (or two), add the squid, and toss to coat evenly. This isn’t meant to be a batter or a crust, so don’t try for a heavy coating.

SPCalamariPlatter01BFLOSet aside the squid in a bowl and get ready to fry – you will need to cook it in 3 or 4 batches.

Add the oil to your deep fryer and heat it to 375º – or, heat the oil in a skillet over high heat until it is very hot, but not smoking.

Add enough squid to not crowd the fryer or skillet and cook for about 3 minutes in the fryer, or about 1 minute in the skillet, until it is crisp, but not tough.

SPCalamariBluePlateBFLOTransfer to a paper towel-lined platter and keep warm in a low oven while cooking the remaining squid.


Still just a bit too salty for our tastes – but I have another bag o’ cephalopods in the freezer, some more of that wicked good cocktail sauce in the fridge, and another seasoning option to try.

I just need to pick up another 32 oz. bottle of peanut oil.

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