A lot of people are more familiar with the word squid than with calamari, although calamari and squid refer to the same food.
Calamari is the Italian name for squid, which is a sea animal with tentacles. It’s these tentacles that make the popular Mediterranean dish named fried calamari.
Squid, however, can be prepared in many ways that include not just the tentacles of the animal, but also the body, the arms, and the ink. The ink of the squid is often used as a flavoring agent in various cuisines and as food coloring.
The only inedible parts of the squid are the beak and the pen.
Squid is prepared differently around the world and is indeed consumed in many countries including Spain, Portugal, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Korea, Thailand, Japan, and India.
Squid cooking tips
The various ways of preparing squid range from raw in the form of sushi and sashimi to deep fried, stewed in gravy, grilled and stuffed. Squid is often an ingredient in stir-fries, pasta dishes, and risotto. There is one primary tip that will make a huge difference when cooking squid, whichever the method.
Unless it’s prepared raw for sushi or sashimi, squid has to be cooked either a very short amount of time or a very long time. That is the golden rule and the ultimate tip to cooking squid.
When making fried squid or fried calamari the tentacles should never be cooked more than two minutes over high heat because they turn into rubber. On the other hand, when cooking stews, it takes at least an hour to re-tenderize the squid, so the cooking process sometimes extends to more than 1 hour.
Squid weighing less than 10 ounces is usually tenderer, but if you want to collect ink, you’ll do better choosing longer squid of at least 5 inches.
Squid cooking and serving ideas
Fried calamari is one of the most popular squid dishes. Often served with tomato sauce, tarator sauce, or plain with salt and lemon on the side, fried squid makes perfect starters or snacks.
There are, however, so many other ways to cook with squid, with every country offering different recipes. Here are only a few of them:
- Calamari and white bean salad: squid is cooked a short amount of time, approximately 1 min.
- Spaghetti and squid in squid-ink sauce: squid is cooked longer, approximately 45 minutes.
- Greek calamari appetizer: squid is cooked longer, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Kalamaria yemista or baked stuffed squid: cooking time is 85 minutes altogether.
- Thai squid salad: squid is cooked 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Spicy calamari soup: cooking time is 35 minutes altogether.
- Calamari rice: squid is sautéed up to 4 minutes.
There are many places in New York that serve some of the best-cooked squids, but if you want to try a few recipes at home, places that carry good calamari include Japanese markets, fishmongers and even Walmart that has it consistently.