Calamari Fritti with Pepperoncini Aioli

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How many of you have ordered fried calamari at a restaurant and then been kinda disappointed that you did?   You know what I mean-- those tough and rubbery rings that are either completely lacking in taste or smell like they were hanging out in the fishery a little too long?  While I hold out hope for getting really good calamari at a restaurant at some point, I decided that it was time to try making it myself and see if I could squeeze a little something more from the squid.

The squid is first soaked and chilled in a milk mixture.  This tenderizes the meat, making it a perfect texture once fried.  The rings are tossed in a lightly seasoned flour mixture before heading to the fryer.  Once fried and drained, serve them immediately with lemon wedges and a knockout Pepperoncini Aioli that'll have you coming back for more.
Printable Recipe

Calamari Fritti with Pepperoncini Aioli
serves 4-6

1 pound squid bodies, rinsed, patted dry with paper towels and sliced into 1/2-inch rings
1 cup milk
1 extra large egg
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil for frying

Lemon wedges
Pepperoncini Aioli, recipe follows

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk and egg.  Add the squid rings, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour.

Pour about 2 inches of oil in a fryer or large, heavy pot and heat the oil to 375ยบ F.  In a pie plate, whisk together the flour, basil, paprika, then season the mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Toss a few of the calamari at a time in the seasoned flour to coat.  Fry for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried calamari to paper towels to drain.  Season with a sprinkle of kosher salt. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and Pepperoncini Aioli.  Enjoy!

Pepperoncini Aioli
makes about 3/4 cup

8-10 pepperoncini peppers, stems removed, drained and roughly chopped
1 medium garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon pepperoncini pickle juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In the bowl of food processor, process the peppers, garlic, and parsley until finely chopped. (You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times).  Add the mayonnaise and pickle juice and process until combined.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer to a serving bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.  Enjoy!

Source: Calamari adapted from foodnetwork.com, Pepperoncini Aioli from The Galley Gourmet


  1. Homemade calamari?! This is life-changing, I need to make it asap :)

  2. This looks literally perfect right down to the ailoli!

  3. I originally made your aioli for a portobello burger and it was DELICIOUS! I've since used a schmear on breakfast sandwiches and tacos. It's the best! Thanks!

  4. Oh, does this spark the memories. Like you, I haven't found good calamari in a restaurant, except once. It wasn't actually a restaurant, come to think of it. It was on a visit to Rhode Island, and The VFW hall in a smallish town there served the most amazing meals to raise money. They had fried calamari with a pepperoncini and garlic salsa, which was basically garlic and pepperoncini chopped up and warmed in some of the broth from the pepperoncini. It was perfect -- just the right light and tangy thing to offset the richness of the fried calamari. I may just give your aioli a try though, too. Thanks!


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