In the states there are an assortment of restaurants that serve fried calamari or squid as it’s often called, from dinners, drive-inns and dives to 5-star restaurants. In Greece and other Mediterranean countries it’s a staple in their diet. I’ve had it with peppers and aioli over top, a variety of sauces like marinara, spicy anchovy mayonnaise, cocktail sauce, tarter sauce and many remoulade sauces. I had it here in Athens, Greece with the famous tzatziki sauce, which was great too. I’ve had it dipped in flour, cornmeal, corn flour, Panko and even tempura. I have never had the whole fried calamari dipped in cornmeal but here in Greece I received my first tasting and it was superb.
Calamari is readily available in the states but I am honestly not sure just how fresh it is. I usually opt for the frozen version and just cut it into rings myself. Personally I find the tentacles irresistible. My friend Elias personally caught this nice selection of calamari from the island of Kimolos and hand delivered it fresh and fully in tact with a bag of cornmeal. Even better Elias was going to prepare it for me.
When I make my fried calamari I soak it for a little in buttermilk as they say it helps to tenderize it but Elias said no need, it’s short frying time and the fresh calamari that makes the difference. He just leaned over the sink with cold running water to clean it removing the eyes, insides and ink reserving the body and tentacles. The ink for some is considered a delicacy. It has a slightly salty flavor and adds a great uniqueness to an entrée. I love squid ink pasta but never made it fresh, I may have to attempt that before I leave Greece. Once the entire calamari was cleaned and rinsed Elias set it on paper towel to drain all the excess water. He laid it out on a flat dish and sprinkled it lightly with corn meal, fried it and served with just fresh lemon squeezed over top. I love all this Mediterranean type food in all its simplicity.