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Bento Recipes: Calamari


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Calamari is deep-fried squid. If that first sentence doesn't discourage you, read on!

    What you need:
    Baby squid
    Flour or tempura mix
    Cold water
    Panko (Breadcrumbs for deep frying; optional but highly recommended)
    Canola oil for deep frying
    Several bowls and a plate

I'll admit right away that I'm being lazy with the batter. You can use plain, all-purpose flour, or you can use tempura mix. Or you can use some other batter if you have a recipe you like. Whatever suits you.

Start with the squid. Clean it if it's not already cleaned, taking care to remove the easily-overlooked beaks in the middle of the tentacles and the plastic-like skeletal thing from the head. Cut the head into rings about 1/2" wide and leave the tentacles as one separate cluster.

First, put some oil in a pot or pan and set it to heat to 350 degrees. How much oil depends on how big the pan is and how much you're making. I like to use 1/2" of oil in a small, thick-bottomed pot, so the temperature remains even. While the oil is heating set up the battering and breading station. In one bowl, pour some flour or mix by itself. In the next bowl, mix flour or whatever with some very cold water, but don't mix it too thoroughly or it'll fry up tough. You just want to break up the big lumps, and the batter should be just thick enough to stick to the squid. (Yeah, this is vague, but you'll get a feel for it very quickly. Or, if you have a box of tempura mix, it'll have exact amounts listed.) Put some panko in the next bowl, if you're using panko. Finally, put some paper towels flat on a plate; this will be where you drain the calamari after it comes out of the oil.

When the oil is hot, take the squid, a few pieces at a time, and dredge them in the dry flour or mix until they are completely covered. This will help the batter stick. Then dip the pieces in the batter coating them completely, and finally drop them into the panko and roll them around to give them that nice fuzzy layer. Then drop them into the oil one by one. Only fry them until the breadcrumbs brown, turning once to cook them evenly, then take them out and put them on the paper towels to drain off the excess oil. They should only take a minute or so to cook. If you cook them longer they will get very tough!

Serve with whatever dipping sauce you like. I'm partial to tempura sauce myself.