When I tried calamari in Greece earlier this year, I was mindblown. It was so incredibly tender and light! Calamari back at home didn't come close in flavor or quality. With this simple dish, it's important to use fresh camalari and for some reason, it's nearly impossible to find in Los Angeles. So instead of trying to achieve the impossible of replicating Greece's version, I decided to change it completely. You still have fried calamari but with classic Italian flavors. This fried calamari piccata is so delicious you might not even notice that the seafood quality isn't up to par.
Fried Calamari Piccata
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 3 tablespoons butter divided
- 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
- ½ lemon thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ cups chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- salt and pepper
- oil for frying
- 1 lb calamari sliced into ½-inch thick slices
- ¾ cup club soda
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add sliced garlic and sliced lemon and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add flour and stir to coat. Add red pepper flakes and white wine and bring to a boil. Continue to cook until almost all of the white wine has evaporated.
- Add chicken stock and capers and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes or until sauce has reduced by half. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter, whisking until butter is fully incorporated in sauce. Remove sauce from heat and add lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Heat frying oil to 400 degrees F.
- Whisk together club soba, rice flour, paprika, salt, and pepper until well combined. Dip sliced calamari in batter, tossing to coat.
- Carefully drop calamari into hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove calamari with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain excess oil. Repeat with remaining calmari.
- Drizzle piccata sauce on calamari, tossing gently to coat. Transfer calamari to serving platter and sprinkle chopped parsley and grated parmesan on top. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Imagine your favorite chicken piccata dish. Then, swap out the chicken for crispy little calamari bites and that's what you have here. It's two dishes combined into one!
What I love about this fried calamari piccata is that you can prepare the sauce ahead of time. When it's time to serve the dish, you can fry the calamari, reheat the sauce, and just toss everything together. Makes entertaining a crowd much easier.
We're sticking to the basic piccata sauce but with the addition of caramelized lemon and red chili flakes for extra oomph. Heat equal amounts of butter and oil in a large saucepan and cook garlic and lemon slices until browned. When you cook lemon slices, you bring out the sweetness and the lemon's juices.
Add a touch of flour to help thicken the sauce along with the red pepper flakes and white wine. Since we're going to toss the calamari in the sauce later on, we want it to be slightly thicker than a normal piccata sauce.
Add chicken stock and capers and let the sauce simmer until reduced and slightly thickened. Whisk in the remaining butter, making the sauce nice and silky. Then, season with salt and pepper and finish with a final squeeze of lemon.
Now let's move on to the calamari. Although calamari and squid look similar, you want to purchase calamari. Squid is tougher and better for stuffing and stewing.
Nowadays you can even buy calamari pre-sliced but if you want the tentacles, buy the whole calamari.
Slice the calamari and whisk together the ingredients for the batter. We're using club soda and rice flour for a lighter batter and spices for extra seasoning.
Batter the calamari and deep fry them in hot oil until golden brown and crispy. It's important that your frying oil is at the right temperature or the batter will be soggy.
As much as I love the air fryer, I wouldn't suggest using it for this recipe. The fried calamari piccata batter is too wet for an air fryer.
Drain the excess oil on paper towels and continue frying all of the calamari.
Reheat the piccata sauce if needed and toss the seafood in the sauce.
Transfer the fried calamari picatta to a serving platter and finish with a sprinkle of parmesan and chopped parsley. You can also serve it with extra lemon wedges if desired.
This appetizer might be the most flavorful fried calamari dish I've ever had. The sauce is unexpected but works great with the fried seafood. The bright lemon flavors with briny capers balance the fried calamari wonderfully. I would gladly enjoy this as an appetizer or side any day of the week!
For more Italian appetizer recipes check out this stone fruit burrata salad!