I took the tempura batter recipe from Calamari “Bruce” by Robert Irvine at foodnetwork.com, but opted to go my own way with the dipping sauce. One thing about tempura – you are going to need to use a deep fryer – or at least a quite deep pan in which to fry your squid bits. Thanks to good friends, I happen to have a small deep fryer, which worked a treat.
•1 pkg. cleaned calamari, sliced crosswise
•1 cup buttermilk
•32 oz canola oil (or more, if needed)
•1-1/2 cup flour
•3/4 cup cornstarch
•4 tsp baking powder
•1 tsp salt
•1/4 tsp pepper
•8 oz cold seltzer
Note 1: some folk believe that, ideally, all tempura ingredients should be very cold when preparing, but I found that just having the seltzer quite cold worked just fine.
Note 2: for followers of Nigella Lawson, allow me to call no way! on her claim that one can chuck a frozen brick of calamari in the fridge on your way out the door in the morning and come home to nicely thawed bits of cephalopod all ready for whatever you may have planned. Plan 2 days for thawing in the fridge, peeps.
Back to the squid:
Rinse and drain your squid, place in a glass bowl of buttermilk, then cover and stash in the fridge for 2 hours.
Drain the marinated squid in a colander and slice into rings (leave the squiddy bits as they are).
Heat the oil to 375º – if you are using a deep fryer like mine, 32 oz of oil will be plenty, but you can skip using the fryer basket – the tempura batter will get stuck in the grid as it puffs; plan on just dropping 3 or 4 pieces at a time directly into the hot oil.
Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
Dredge the squid rings and tentacles in the flour mixture, then remove to another plate.
Dip the squid into the batter – or, you can try ladling the batter over the squid on a plate. I tried both ways, both work.
Drop your dipped/drizzled squid into the hot oil, a few pieces at a time, and cook for 2 minutes, or until they are golden brown, puff up, and float to the surface.
Nice. Crispy and puffy and Oh! So Good! I would also recommend trying this tempura batter with assorted veggies, bits of chicken of shrimp, whatever you may like to consider breading and deep frying.
Oh, and that dipping sauce? I call it warm tomato and pepper relish, and the recipe will be here… tomorrow.
Trust me. You want it.