Find out about this tasty sea creature that's popular in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines.
Deep-Fried Calamari
Photo by Meredith

What is calamari? What is calamari made of?

Calamari is the commonly used culinary term for squid, a shellfish with a chewy texture and a mild taste. Calamari are particularly popular in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines. The fish is a member of the mollusk family. Calamari are invertebrates, animals without a backbone.

What is Fried Calamari?

A popular way of preparing calamari is dipping the rings, arms and tentacles of calamari in batter and deep-frying them. Under the Spanish name Calamares fritos the calamari are often served as part of a tapas spread. For Rhode Island-style calamari, deep-fried calamari are tossed with slices of pickled hot chili peppers.

What is Calamari Steak?

Calamari steak is the body of the calamari cut into flat pieces. It is crucial not to overcook calamari, which makes them rubbery.

What is the Difference between Calamari and Octopus?

Calamari and octopus are related but differ in their anatomy and their habitat: octopus live solitary in dens on the ocean floor whereas squids live in the open oceans, some in large schools, others as solitary fish.

What is Calamari Good for?

In their uncooked from, calamari are low in saturated fat and a good source of protein, and also rich in vitamins and minerals. However, when prepared as fried calamari and served with a dipping sauce such as marinara sauce, the cholesterol and sodium content surges. For a healthy diet, choose alternative recipes with calamari that don't require frying, such as broiling, baking, or oven-roasting.

What are Calamari in Squid Ink?

Calamares en su tinta is a Spanish specialty where calamari are cooked in the blue ink from the ink sacs of the calamari, also called squid ink. Italian cuisine uses squid ink to color pasta dishes.

Some Favorite Calamari Recipes

"My mom always cooked this recipe when I was a kid: deep-fried calamari," says Cory Folchi. "This is one of our family's favorite foods. Simple yet very delicious."

Cory's Best Calamari
Photo by Lydia

Grilled calamari are stuffed with hot Italian sausage, red pepper, Italian parsley, onions, and spices. Give them a quick chill in the fridge as you build your fire on the grill. "However, your efforts will be rewarded with something that tastes every bit the effort it took to make," says Chef John. "Serve with lemon wedges."

"This is the paella all your family and friends will beg you to make again," says Desi Carrimko. "It has the true flavor of Spain and has been made by my family in Catalonia for many generations. Enjoy!"

Maria's Paella
Photo by Lester
| Credit: Lester

"Calamari has an unfair reputation for being tricky to work with and that it's rubbery when cooked," says Chef John. "Here's the secret: cook it in 45 seconds or 45 minutes--very quickly or a long slow simmer. For this marinara dish, I use the long simmer method."

Calamari Marinara
Photo by Chef John

"An Italian favorite, best with a nice red wine and Frank Sinatra playing in the background," says Charles Anthony.

Zuppa Di Pesce Fra Di Avolo
Photo by donna

This simple salad with squid and arugula is delicious hot or cold. "I didn't get the char I wanted on the calamari, but I still enjoyed a flavorful, healthy lunch," says Chef John. "I ate the leftovers cold, tossed with the same salad ingredients, and it was actually better."

Warm Calamari Salad
Photo by Chef John

"A crispy, fresh-tasting fried calamari, similar to that found in a very popular Asian restaurant," says Lindsayne.

Salt and Pepper Calamari
Photo by Soup Loving Nicole

"Not only did it make a fantastic sort of Thai-like salad, I can see this dish being quite versatile as well," says Chef John. "It was very tasty hot and would be great over rice with some of the cooked-down marinade. It would also be amazing over a big bowl of crunchy greens. Just don't skip the toasted coconut as it really does make the dish."

Check out our collection of Calamari Recipes.