I’m pretty sure we were eating calamari before it was trendy. It’s always been a traditional, no…mandatory, part of our seafood feast on Christmas Eve. I remember a time when any newcomer to our table would look askance at the squid on his or her plate, especially if there were squiggly tentacles involved. (Haha!) But now, I think it’s widely accepted that Neapolitan-Style Fried Calamari is one of the best dishes in the world. (I have no bias whatsoever.)
So, how does this compare with most calamari you’ll find in restaurants? There are no bread crumbs here. Just flour. And more than a mere dusting. These babies get dredged in it, to absorb any moisture left over from rinsing them clean. Then, just to make sure they’re dry, they get plopped into a clean brown bag filled halfway with more flour, and shaken up. (That was Nonna’s clever solution, which Mom still uses.)I made some Neapolitan-Style Fried Calamari the other day for the first time. (So exciting!) I had bought a couple packages of rings, and they were mostly less than an inch wide, as you can see above. The cooked ones in the photos are the larger ones that Mom and I made at her house yesterday. Calamari shrinks quite a bit during frying, so Mom recommends buying large tubes (the body of the squid is tubular) and slicing them into rings yourself. I’d go with two inches wide, but Mom cuts hers even wider.And really, there’s no recipe to memorize. It’s more of a method. You’ll need lots of paper towels to pat the calamari dry after rinsing and to absorb the oil after they’ve been fried. You’ll want at least two cups of flour per pound of calamari, keeping in mind that you’ll discard whatever flour’s left afterward. You can use canola or corn oil, enough to come 1/2 inch up the sides of your pan. (If you’re making more than one pound of squid, you’ll need to change out the oil when it gets filled with too much flour.)
Then, just have salt, pepper, and fresh lemon on hand for serving. In our family, we don’t even dip our calamari in marinara.
Like Mom says, “This is how we do it in Naples.”
(Recipe Source: My Mom, who learned from Nonna)