Made in Italy: Calamari Fritti

Appetizer | November 1, 2013 | By

calamari fritti


I have a thing for cookbooks. My collection may be smaller than some, but it’s also more comprehensive than others. I love leafing through a fresh new cookbook for inspiration as much as I enjoy re-reading an old favourite. And cookbooks make fabulous gifts. Sharing a treasured one or exploring something new. This recipe comes from last year’s Christmas present of David Rocco’s Made in Italy (I also have a thing for Italy, more on that later), a book to be savoured. The photos are stunning, the recipes we’ve tried so far were absolutely delicious, not too complicated, and made me feel a tiny bit Italian.

Squid is not a usual occurrence in our kitchen, but it’s economical and frying in my trusted old Le Creuset, using olive oil and not having to worry about a thermometer sure worked!




 Ready to chop into rings.


octopus in milk bath


Soaking in milk.



octopus cover


 This is the messy part. Making sure to coat enough but not too much.


octopus drench


So I tried the plastic bag trick: put the flour and breadcrumbs mixture in the bag, threw in a few squid rings and did some shaking.



frying calamari


Pardon the fuzzy image, wanted to show how this can easily be done without a deep fryer.


calamari fritti


It becomes somewhat of a production line, and it’s important to work fast, in small batches. Those calamari are best piping hot and nice and crisp.

The recipe below comes from David Rocco’s Facebook notes page, my changes were slight; I used Panko instead of breadcrumbs and added some cayenne pepper. When the calamari were out of the oil, I sprinkled with sea salt and then squeezed some lemon over just before serving. The squid available were little baby ones, so we used just over 1 lb.



  • 8 squid, cleaned
  • 2 cups (450 ml) milk
  • 1 cup (225 ml) flour
  • 1 cup (225 ml) breadcrumbs
  • Salt, QB
  • Pepper, QB
  • 3 cups (675 ml) extra virgin olive oil


Cut the squid into rings of about ½ inch and let rest in a bowl of milk, along with the tentacles, for 5 minutes.

Mix the flour, breadcrumbs, pepper and salt in a bowl.

Take the calamari out of the milk bath and shake gently to remove any excess liquid.

Put the calamari into the flour and mix them gently to coat evenly. Remove them to a plate and shake off any excess flour.

Heat up the olive oil in a deep pan until the oil starts to smoke. (Note: This is my “scientific” method, I don’t use a thermometer). Gently put some of the calamari into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd the pan. Fry until golden and crisp. With a slotted spoon remove the calamari and put them on an absorbent paper towel. Immediately hit them with salt. And enjoy!


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