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Mar 7, 2009 06:24 AM

fried calamari

hello this is my first time posting here. i have a question regarding frying calamari. i have tried it with olive oil, ihave tried it with vegetable oil. ihave tried coating with flour and cornstarch as well as only with cornstarch. my problem is i can,t seem to get any color. texture and taste are good but calamari are pale. what can i do them golden? thank you very much.

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  1. Are you talking about steaks or rings and tentacles?

      1. re: fiore156

        This Batali recipe should give you some tips. (As he says constantly, DON'T be afraid of frying in olive oil.)

      2. I've had it in restaurants - very crunchy, browned coating which I suspect was flour and cornmeal, or cornflake crumbs (you can buy them ready-crushed and boxed, either near the seafood or where the bread crumbs are in most supermarkets.

        1. Try using "used" oil. I used to eat at a deli that would mix some old oil with new oil, owner said new oil won't brown as well as used oil. To prove it to me, she cooked some fries in new oil, then added some old oil and cooked some more fries, the fries cooked in the old/new mixture were golden, the new oil fries were pale. I googled it and found some support of that theory.

          31 Replies
          1. re: Alan408

            This used oil idea is intriguing. I may have to put it to the test. You can also consider seasoning your flour with somethin like paprika, chili powder or cayenne mixed with cornmeal or semolina flour. for a more golden color. Othe spices to consider are curry and cumin for a different ethnic approach.

            1. re: BastedEggs

              i'd use peanut oil.

              as to mixing old with new oil, i've been advised against this. plus, old oil gets "depleted" somehow, where it is no longer good to use (even if it is not cloudy with little bits of coating that have come off before...).

              i've made calamari by dredging in egg, then a seasoned flour-fine cornmeal mixture, then into the 370 degree deep peanut oil.

              it is addictive, especially with fresh squeezed lemon juice, or with some red bell pepper aioli!

            2. re: Alan408

              Totally agree. We do it here at my job..things just come out so much better.

              1. re: krisrishere

                Good quality oil is too expensive for most of us to only use new. I filter after use through coffee filter lined strainer and store in the refrigerator in a full air-tight jar. To prolong oil life be sure to get the little bits of carbon out of it and minimize any salt in your fried products. Minimizing contact with air keeps it fresh tasting too.

                1. re: iamafoodie

                  not kris here, but....fwiw, i am not advocating using only new. i almost always re-use deep frier oil. i'm advocating not blending old and new oils.

                  1. re: alkapal

                    Oil does not get "depleted", the ph changes.

                    Many of the reponses ignored the OP's comment, "happy with taste and texture,.....what can I do to get them golden" My post was an attempt to suggest using "used" oil, I did not recommend adding old oil to new oil, I recommended using "used" oil.

                    1. re: Alan408

                      "depleted" [sic] *somehow* is what i said. when the pH changes, is it still good to use as frying oil? or is its effectiveness diminished? maybe "frying *capacity* depleted"? or that still doesn't make the cut? i should've said so degraded that it should no longer be used. but i thank you, alan, for spurring me on to further understand the technical aspects.

                      how would you ideally describe the impact of the low pH -- or a broader issue -- the impact of over-used oil -- on the frying process?

                      this website has an interesting explication of the "oxidization" process that renders stable saturated fats into unstable poyunsaturated fats, or "radicals:"

                      >>>>>> "At the high temperatures that occur during frying and deep frying oxidation can become a problem. A chemical reaction can occur between oxygen in the air and the hot fat that causes the formation of very reactive compounds called radicals. The high temperature that is used in frying plus the metal of the frying pan can encourage the formation of radicals. These radicals can in turn attack other fatty acids producing an oxidized fat."


                      "Oils should not be kept in the refrigerator because the low temperature will cause a separation of the various types of fatty acids in the vegetable oil."


                      "The oxidation of fatty acids changes the chemical properties of the fat; it reduces the nutritional value of the fat, darkens its colour and can cause off–flavours. [To avoid the formation of oxidized fatty acids] is to use fresh oil when frying."


                      "It is generally considered that, in the home, using the same oil three times is prudent. Old oil is more likely to be oxidized. Most vegetable oils contain some antioxidants – either natural or added – that will help protect the oil from oxidation." <<<<<
                      and in my post, i didn't say you advocated mixing old and new oils. but this industry website does demonstrate how "best" to "freshen the oil" by removing some old oil and adding some new oil to the old. it says it restores the "composition" of the oil. it also addresses oil degradation, but not really in great detail about pH:

                      the site sells a testing kit, and mentions, among others, a couple of effects of old, used, lowered pH fry oil: "Smoking: Free fatty acids or other sediments can cause smoke and contaminate the oil.
                      Foaming: This occurs when the oil has broken down too far and the oil has oxidized."


                      finally, i think that my recommendation of 370 degree peanut oil -- even if new -- will make a flour-cornmeal-coated fresh calamari fry up golden brown and crispy (yet tender and moist inside).

                      1. re: alkapal

                        Could you go back and research this for a couple of hours more?

                        I agree with you about the oil temperature. OP does not mention an oil cooking temperature, quantity of oil and amount of calamari that goes in at one time. The temperature may be too low before cooking or it gets knocked down with the introduction of too much calamari for the amount of oil. It gets cooked but doesn't get back up to a browning temperature.... ?

                        1. re: Scargod

                          scargod, yeah! i'm the google research whipper-snapper! ;-).

                          mr. alka. "oh gosh, you're on chowhound again?"
                          moi: "'m doing research...."

                          ps, good tips you're offering!

                          1. re: Scargod

                            I like using a vegetable or canola, just worked better for me and I do dip in egg then flour. worked great. But temp as Scargod mentioned has to be high enough. A little at a time to keep the temp up. Very key. Also someone mentioned wondra. Wondra flour does brown nice. When I made it my friend bought the flour and the main ingredients so I didn't argue. It worked great. I have only made it 2 or 3 times, but always successful. Calamari also NOT cold, room temp, hot oil and small amounts. Also the type of pan you are using does affect how it browns.

                            1. re: kchurchill5

                              i think it was jacques pepin touting wondra's wonders, just the other day.

                              1. re: alkapal

                                Oh ... if I agree with him I'm in big trouble. Since I proclaim not to like him. Actually I just don't enjoy watching him on TV is all, I think he is very good. But I have had some flack over my comment about him. Nothing personal, He just bores me. But he is very good! And if he did the Wondra thing, I give him Kudos. It did seem to work. I made this about 4 months ago, but it wasn't me my girlfriend just brought the flour and said I heard this works and since I don't cook calamari a lot I figured why not. Success. I do think the oil temp is key.

                                Does this mean I have to take back all the bad things I said about Jacques? :)

                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                  try some wondra frying up your fish.

                                  maybe then you and jacques can reach some rapprochement.

                                2. re: alkapal

                                  I caught that Pipin reference, I use an Egg wash to start and coat in seasoned Penko bread crumbs in Rice Bran oil. Every one seems to like it, but what about the Dip? There has to be a dip.

                                  1. re: currymouth

                                    I have used panko too, works good, usually what I have around. Dip, I have a variety, some asian inspired, some traditional ketchup based some mustard sweet based with a apricot or citrus sauce.

                                    Got to have dip!!

                                    I always wanted to try just egg whites with a light fine ground panko almost to flour consistency and see what would happen with some added cayene for some heat. Just never tried it. I love a spicy citrus cip, some orange marmalade, red pepper flakes, some soy, a little lemon or lime juice, ginger and garlic, cooked and simmer to thin out and served warm with the calamari.

                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                      i thought the point of panko was the texture.

                                      1. re: alkapal

                                        It is agreed totally. But I wondered with calamari being so delicate if it was ground would it still have that like texture and flavor. It was just a thought. I don't like tempura much and wanted a light crumb for the calamari and thought of that but panko is a bit too big of crumbs for me so I thought of grinding it down. Who knows? Just an idea.

                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                          crunching panko down a bit seems like it'd work for calamari. i guess my thought was that you said "fine" grind.

                                          i'd like to try a "batter" that i had today on "chengdu salt and pepper shrimp" at our favorite szechuan spot. i have to research it, but i'm thinking it was cornstarch-based. so light, but flavorful and crispy.

                                          1. re: alkapal

                                            I have ate a cornstarch based batter and was impressed. Never made it however, would be good on the calamari

                                      2. re: kchurchill5

                                        Thank you for your concise reply, and I will look forward to trying the dip with marmalade. Thanks once again.

                                      3. re: currymouth

                                        Ya know, hearing "Panko! Panko!" makes me wonder if anyone has ever used rice flour? I use Panko, but there's also flour and ground, toasted rice. All good!
                                        I like Canola and also grapeseed oil for pan frying.
                                        Never, ever heard of Rice Bran oil! What's next, sesame seed oil?
                                        And what IS Wondra? High/low glutin? What?

                                        1. re: Scargod

                                          I have not, I may have to try it. I also like Canola, tried grapeseed once, has to be for the right dish for me but good flavor.

                                          Wonder about Wondra? Ok, that was corny

                                          When I used it I had never before, so it was new to me. It worked and I didn't argue, she brought me all the ingredients so I just went along with her.

                                          1. re: kchurchill5

                                            Wondra: wheat and barley flour and wheat "ingredients". Protein is 10%.
                                            Now I can go formulate something similar...

                                            1. re: Scargod

                                              best flour I have used for a crispy crunch, maybe it was just that day, but I did keep the extra and will try again.

                                            2. re: kchurchill5

                                              Rice bran oil was used by Japanese Restaurants to deep fry Tempura, Not sure about today because It's not easy to find anymore.

                                                1. re: currymouth

                                                  I use grapeseed and canola for stir-frying.
                                                  Looking around I found this:
                                                  Dr. Bruce Fife is a certified nutritionist and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. He says: The only fats you should use for moderate to high temperature cooking are saturated fats like lard, butter, and coconut oil. He also says, "you should never use polyunsaturated oils in cooking"! Free radicals is his beef!

                                                  Another (Chef's) site says, "The best fats to uses for high temperature cooking are saturated fats or mono unsaturated fats like healthy "olive oil".
                                                  Coconut oil can also withstand very high heats with out turning toxic.
                                                  Coconut oil is also a "medium chain saturated fat" and it is the long chain saturated fats that are linked to health problems which are only found in animal fats."

                                                  What about consuming the oil left on the food after you've cooked with it? Oh, Lordy, what should I believe?? I think this will be a new thread... I gotta go look.

                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                    Growing up in the Caribbean and surrounded by coconuts and it's by products , I can't stand anything coconut except fresh juice and even then only from what we called Chinese coconuts, the round yellow ones.So I,guess the oil is out of the question for me.

                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                Not for calamari, but I have used rice flour in a batter for fried eggplant. Courtesy Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: 2/3 cup AP flour, 1/3 cup rice flour, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 3/4 tablespoon sugar, scant 1/2 tablespoon salt, +1 cup ice water. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, pour in the ice water, then whisk the water into the flour mixture until batter is silky.

                                                It may have been the most extraordinary frying batter I ever made. Not only was it gorgeously brown and crispy, but unlike anything else I've ever fried, the leftover eggplant crisped up almost like freshly fried in the toaster oven even a day or two later. I kept promising myself I was going to try it with another ingredient, but just haven't gotten around to it.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  Sounds great. I love eggplant, also zucchini and summer squash mushrooms, etc. I don't fry too much but now and then it is fun to have as a change. I love oven frying with simple egg whites and fresh breadcrumbs.

                                                  For one party we had lots of grilled seafood, some shrimp, blue crabs, fish, lobster tails etc and I thought it would be fun to do something other than grilled veggies so fried some but wasn't impressed with the batter. A standard tempura with some heat, but still didn't like it. This sounds perfect.

                                      4. re: alkapal

                                        there is a restaurant i saw on some show on the travel channel that uses oil thats about 80 years old.... they just filter it a couple times a week. They swear that that's why their food is so good (and popular)....

                            2. The COTM, Fish Without a Doubt, recommends using Wondra flour to get the browning you desire. I haven't tried it yet though, so I can not confirm that this works.