Calamari (or squid) has been around since ancient times and it’s still eaten today in Japan, Italy, China, Thailand, Mexico, India, and many other countries.
It’s also one of those foods that most Americans haven’t had much experience with.
But if you want to try this delicacy, we have gathered an easy-to-follow guide on how to prepare calamari steaks at home.
What Kind Of Calamari Steak Are You Looking For?
There are two main types of calamari available in the market – “squid ink” or “calamari meat.” Squid is usually sold as whole tentacles, which means they are just like little arms.
The meat on these tentacles can be sliced into strips before cooking.
The second type is called “calamari meat,” which comes from the body cavity of the squid.
This cut is more tender than the tentacles but not quite as juicy.
You might find calamari meat sold by itself or mixed with the tentacles.
To make both cuts of calamari work together well, here’s what you need to know:
- Squid ink is best when fried, while calamari meat is better served cold. If you choose to fry your calamari, you will want to marinate them first so that the fat doesn’t burn during frying. To do this, add all of the ingredients except for oil, salt, pepper, and parsley into a large mixing bowl and stir until everything is evenly coated. Let it sit for 20 minutes. Heat up some vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat and cook each piece of calamari separately. When done, drain off any excess oil.
- If you opt to use calamari meat instead of squid ink, simply season it with salt and pepper after cleaning the squid. Add 2 tbsp olive oil per pound of calamari meat and toss with your hands until all pieces are covered. Cook over high heat for about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, then flip and sear the other side for another 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Remove from heat and let cool completely before slicing.
- For the best flavor, we recommend using fresh calamari meat rather than frozen. Frozen calamari often contains fillers such as breadcrumbs and potato starch that give it a rubbery texture.
- You may notice that our recipes call for calamari meat, even though we said earlier that you could skip the step altogether. That’s because calamari meat alone isn’t very flavorful unless paired with something else. In fact, there are plenty of ways to serve calamari without making it part of a dish.
How to clean calamari
Before you start preparing calamari for dinner, take note that you must remove the eyes and suck out the guts before eating it.
We don’t cover this process in detail here because it’s pretty straightforward.
However, if you would prefer to learn more, check out this article I wrote last year about the different methods used to clean calamari.
What Are The Ingredients For A Calamari Steak Recipe?
The main ingredient is squid or calamari.
If you can find fresh ones, they will be your best choice as they tend to taste better than frozen or canned products.
But if you cannot get them, frozen will work just fine.
You will also need some seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and chili flakes.
You don’t necessarily need all these things but having them makes life easier when preparing this dish.
If you would rather use fresh herbs instead of dried spices, feel free to go ahead and add whatever you prefer.
How Do You Cook A Calamari Steak?
The first step when cooking calamari is to peel off its skin by cutting along the head end of the body, then carefully pulling back from the tail section until all the tentacles are removed.
You can leave some skin clinging to the head but remove as much as possible before proceeding.
Next, cut the tentacles into rings about 3/4 inch wide.
The smaller pieces will take less time to cook through so make sure to keep them separate while they simmer.
Now that your calamari has been prepared, use a sharp knife to slice down between each tentacle ring to create thin strips.
You should be able to see the white muscle beneath the blackened outer portion of the tentacles.
This is what you want to eat.
I prefer to lightly season my calamari so that it doesn’t taste too sweet or fishy.
Then simply place the sliced calamari onto a hot pan over medium heat and let it sit there for 5 minutes.
After this initial soak, flip it over using tongs and repeat the process on the opposite side.
Repeat this method on both sides until all the calamari is cooked.
You’ll know when it’s ready because you’ll start smelling the aroma of calamari coming out of the pan.
Once done, serve immediately to enjoy a tasty appetizer.
What Is The Nutritional Value Of A Calamari Steak?
Calamari comes from the Italian word “cala mare,” which literally means “sea squids.”
You can find these sea creatures all over the world, but they typically grow up to be about 6 inches long, so small enough to fit inside your mouth without choking yourself.
The meat portion of a calamari steak is made up mostly of cartilage, connective tissue, fat, and collagen.
Calamarians contain relatively high amounts of sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
They’re also low in protein content, containing only 2 grams per 100 gram serving.
Calamarian flesh contains more than 50% water while its cartilaginous body parts contain less than 15%.
This makes calamari steaks very juicy and tender when cooked properly.
Calamari steaks are known as “squid ink” because of their dark coloration.
Squid ink is rich in iron and iodine, both important minerals for good health.
But beware – eating too much squid may cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or even death.
The FDA recommends consuming no more than 3 ounces of squid per week.
If you don’t feel comfortable attempting this dish, stick to smaller servings of calamari instead.
What Are Some Tips For Cooking A Calamari Steak?
It can be tricky to cook calamari meat because it tends to be very rubbery due to its high moisture content.
So, before you start preparing your calamari steak, make sure you know what kind of seafood you will be using.
You should select tender pieces of fish from these types of species to ensure that they won’t break apart or crumble while being cooked.
When purchasing calamari, look out for large specimens as they tend to be more flavorful than smaller ones.
Preparing calamari steak
The first step to making calamari steak is to cut up the calamari into bite-sized chunks.
Make sure that the calamari meat is soft enough so that it doesn’t tear during cutting.
Next, place the calamari in water and soak them for about 30 minutes, which allows the calamari meat to absorb more flavor.
After soaking, drain the calamari and pat dry with paper towels.
Now, season the calamari meat by sprinkling salt and pepper over each piece.
You may add additional seasoning such as garlic powder, onion powder, Italian herbs, or any other spices that appeal to you.
Next, heat up a cast iron pan or skillet over medium-high heat and let it get hot until a drop of butter sizzles.
Then put the calamari meat into the pan and cook it until golden brown.
Once the calamari is crispy and golden brown, flip it over and repeat the process again.
After both sides of the calamari are crispy, remove them from the pan and set aside to cool down.
Once the calamari is cooled off, slice them and serve them with a squeeze of lemon juice and parsley.
Alternatively, you can use calamari in salads, pasta dishes, soups, stews, and even desserts.
How Do You Know When A Calamari Steak Is Done?
The answer depends on your preference.
If you prefer the meat to be more tender, cook it longer than if you like your calamari cooked well done.
When I first started eating calamari, my mother always told me to look for signs that the calamari was done.
She would say “Look at its color.
Does it change color?
Is there any sign of blood coming out from between the tentacles? When it turns red, or starts turning brown, then it’s ready.”
So, what does that mean?
Well, depending on the type of calamari being prepared (such as calamari rings, which come pre-cut), they will turn different colors once they’re cooked properly.
The coloring can range from pinkish to dark red.
This means that cooking time varies based on the type of calamari you’re preparing.
However, if you don’t see any signs of bleeding, then you know your calamari is good to go.
You might even find yourself saying, “I think it’s perfect!”
Cooking time to get the right result
Depending on the size of your calamari and the thickness of the meat, you should take into consideration the cooking time listed below:
- Smaller calamari – 10 minutes
- Medium calamari – 12 minutes
- Large calamari – 15 minutes
Tips on cutting the calamari steak
What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make When Cooking A Calamari Steak?
When preparing calamari dishes like calamari steaks or calamari fried rice, there are usually three things that can go wrong: overcooking the meat so that it becomes tough, undercooking the meat so that it falls apart, or using too little oil during frying.
So what should you be aware of before trying out your own calamari dish?
Here are some tips from our friends over at Chowhound that will help ensure success.
- The first thing to remember about cooking calamari is that it takes less time than you might think. The ideal way to cook calamari is to let it marinate in olive oil for 24 hours prior to grilling it. This allows the flavors to permeate throughout the entire piece of calamari.
- If you don’t plan on eating right away, then it’s best to marinade the calamari overnight to allow them more time to absorb flavor. But even after that, you may need to grill them slightly longer because they tend to dry up quickly once cooked.
- Another tip is to use high heat. You don’t want to sear the calamari steaks as fast as possible because this can cause them to become tough. Instead, you want to slowly brown them until all sides turn golden brown.
- You shouldn’t fry calamari steaks in their shells. If you do, they will fall apart easily. To fix this problem, remove the tentacles from the body part of the calamari and cut them into pieces.
- Finally, never eat raw calamari. Always cook it thoroughly.
What Are Some Ways To Serve A Calamari Steak?
The easiest way to cook calamari is by cutting the tentacles into pieces, marinating them in your favorite sauce or seasoning mixture, then frying them up in oil until they turn golden brown.
But there are several different types of dishes that use calamari as the main ingredient.
Here’s what some of these look like.
- Crispy Calamari – Crispy calamari can be prepared in so many different ways, from pan fried, deep fried, baked, breaded, or even barbecued. The best part about crispy calamari is that it tastes great any time of day.
- Steak Frites – This dish is also known as “steak frites” which means French fries served with grilled meat. In order to create this classic dish, calamari is cut into thin strips, seasoned, and then tossed in flour before being sautéed with onions, garlic, bell peppers, and tomatoes. Once cooked, add sliced mushrooms, capers, parsley, and lemon juice and toss everything together. Serve immediately over mashed potatoes and enjoy!
- Fried calamari balls – Fried calamari balls are similar to “fries” but instead of using vegetables or meats, you fry slices of calamari in hot oil until they are crisp, then dip them in batter made out of cornstarch, eggs, and milk. These calamari balls are perfect for dipping into sauces such as ranch dressing, tartar sauce, honey mustard, or chili sauce.
- Crab Cakes – Crab cakes are usually made out of crabmeat, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, eggs, and seasonings. However, calamari can replace the crab meat. To begin making this dish, combine all ingredients except the calamari in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Then gently fold in the calamari pieces until evenly distributed throughout the mixture. Form the mixture into patties and refrigerate for 20 minutes while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes per side.
- Stuffed calamari – If you prefer to eat calamari without the sauce or stuffing, place the cleaned calamari heads in water mixed with salt and pepper for 30 minutes. Remove the calamari from the brine and rinse well under cold running water. Pat dry and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill each head with cheese and bake for 25 minutes.
- Skewered calamari – Skewer the cleaned calamari heads with bamboo skewers and grill them on medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes per side.
What Are Some Popular Accompaniments For A Calamari Steak?
If you love eating calamari steak but don’t know where or how to start, then let us help by offering up the following list of common accompaniment recipes.
- Sautéed spinach is great as a side dish when ordering calamari steak. The tender texture of calamari makes it perfect for preparing sautés. You can choose from two different methods: either pan frying the calamari pieces over high heat until they get crispy or cooking them in the oven until they turn golden brown.
- Pesto sauce is another classic way to enjoy calamari steaks. If you like pesto, then this will be right up your alley.
- Grilled eggplant slices are a nice addition to any calamari steak plate. Eggplants are known for their soft flesh which makes them ideal for grilling. Once grilled, slice the eggplant into thin strips and top each piece with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley flakes for added flavor.
- Roasted red peppers are another go-to option. Roasting whole roasted red peppers adds extra depth to this dish. To make these, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Then cut off the stem end and remove the skin from the pepper. Next, place the pepper directly onto a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes. This should give the peppers enough time to soften while retaining their shape.
- Fresh basil leaves bring out the best flavors in calamari steaks. Just tear fresh basil leaves and add them to a bowl along with lemon juice, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Toss everything together thoroughly before adding the squid pieces. Lastly, drizzle with olive oil just before serving.
- Garlic butter is a good way to dress up calamari steaks too. To make this, combine 2 tablespoons unsalted butter with minced garlic cloves. Add 1 teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon sea salt, ¼teaspoon black pepper, and 3/4 cup melted unsalted butter. Mix all ingredients well so there are no bits of clumps remaining. Pour half of the mixture in a small mixing bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix the other half of the mixture with all dry ingredients. Spread the seasoned butter evenly on both sides of the calamari steaks. Place the calamari steaks back in the fridge for about 10 minutes.
- To finish things off, sprinkle with crushed red pepper or paprika for extra spice. Serve immediately after removing from the fridge.
How do I cook a calamari steak?
The first thing you need to do is clean the calamari meat.
Cut away all of its tentacles and head. Remove the eyes and suckers using a spoon.
Peel off the outer layer of the body and rinse with cold water.
Slice the body lengthwise and remove any bones inside.
Rinse again and pat dry with paper towels.
Next, season the calamari steak with salt and pepper.
Heat a skillet or grill pan over medium heat.
Cook the calamari steaks for 4 to 5 minutes per side.
When done, transfer them to a cutting board and allow them to cool for five minutes before slicing.
What Are Some Tips For Leftovers Of
The following is a list of common ingredients used by restaurants when cooking calamari steak but they can be found in supermarkets as well.
If not available locally, the following substitutions will work just fine:
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon capers
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 lemon cut into wedges
How to make calamari steak at home
If you’re planning to cook calamari, there are several things you need to know before trying it out for yourself.
It takes about 15 minutes to get everything ready for making calamari steaks.
You could save a little bit of preparation time by buying already cleaned calamari rings from your local market instead of doing all of this manually.
You should allow at least 10 minutes per pound of calamari.
So, for example, if you bought two pounds of calamari, then you would need 20 minutes of total cooking time – 10 minutes each side.
When using frozen calamari, add them directly to boiling water and let simmer until cooked through.
Then, drain off any excess water and pat dry with paper towels.
Alternatively, you can use a pressure cooker and boil the calamari in water for 30 seconds after adding it to the pot.
Then immediately release the pressure, remove the lid, and drain off the excess water.
This recipe makes enough for 4 people.
- 2 Calamari Steaks
- Progresso Garlic
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 cup white wine
- 1 ounce of sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 lemon
- olive oil
- salt & pepper
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over moderately high heat until it is heated but not smoking.
- Stir the cheese, flour, and pepper together while the oil is heating. Then, in a separate large shallow basin, lightly whisk the egg and water.
- One calamari steak should be coated in the flour mixture, dipped in the egg mixture, let the excess drip off, and then transferred to a platter.
- Cook the egg- and flour-coated steaks over moderately high heat, flipping them over once, for approximately 112 minutes, or until they are brown. Repeat with a second steak.
- Transfer to a dish and warmly cover with a tea towel. Then, move the finished steaks to a tray. Repeat with the remaining steaks.
- Remove the fat from the pan, then add the butter, capers, and lemon juice to taste. Cook over medium heat for about 45 seconds, or just long enough for the butter to melt.
- Serve the calamari steaks immediately after pouring the lemon caper sauce over them. Enjoy!