Calamares Frito - Fried Squid

In Puerto Rican cuisine the main dish involving squid is arroz con calamares or rice with squid. Or, as we call it in our family, "black rice." The reason for that is that the ink from the squid gives a dark color to the rice. This was my father's favorite dish. It combined two things he loved: seafood and rice. We also have calamares frito or fried squid.

Fried squid is popular in Mediterranean cooking. Both Greek and Italian cuisine have a version of it. Ours is not that much different: the squid, both tentacles and body, is cut into small pieces or ringlets, dredged in seasoned flour or bread crumbs, and deep fried. The seasoning varies. We add oregano and parsley to ours, other recipes may use cilantro or thyme. It's all a matter of taste.

This is one of the easiest dish to prepare---that is, if you buy already cleaned squid, which can be found these days in almost any supermarket or food shop. If you do have access to already cleaned squid, then purchase a whole squid from your fishmonger (note that one pound whole squid yields about 1/2 pound of cleaned calamari). Rinse the squid, tentacles and all, under cold running water. Cut the tentacles, which are near the eyes, and remove from the head. Reserve the tentacles since they are considered the choicest morsel. Remove and discard the mouth which is located in the center of the tentacles. Next, rub off the purplish outer skin of the body under cold running water with your hands. Hold the closed end of the body (also called the mantle) in one hand and with the other squeeze out the innards, pushing out the viscera, head and translucent backbone. Turn body inside out. Discard viscera, head and bone. Wash the inside of the body thoroughly. Lay the body on a flat surface and slice down the center from the bottom. Spread open and cut into bite-sized pieces or strips. Cut tentacles into rounds. That's it. Another way of removing the viscera from the squid is to feel inside the body with one hand and simply pull out the innards, rather than using the toothpaste method of squeezing forward. Whichever way you do it, after washing and cutting the squid is set for cooking.

       (Fried Squid)

1 1/2 pounds cleaned squid with tentacles, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups flour
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried
Salt an freshly ground back pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 lemons, cut into wedges
Vegetable oil for frying

1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, oregano, salt, pepper, and parsley.
2. Toss squid in floor mixture to coat, shaking off excess flour.
3. Pour oil in a heavy bottomed pan or skillet to about the depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium heat. Working in batches, add squid and fry until golden brown and crisp, about 1-2 minutes.
4.With tongs or slotted spoon, transfer calamares to a plate lined with paper towels
    Yield: 4 servings.