Fried Calamari

Total Time:
35 min
10 min
20 min
5 min

4 to 6 servings

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • Several dashes hot sauce
  • 1 1/2 pounds calamari, cut into rings
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows, plus more for sprinkling
  • Marinara Sauce, recipe follows, for dipping
  • Stir buttermilk and hot sauce together in a large bowl or shallow pan. Soak calamari in buttermilk mixture for 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a large, heavy Dutch oven no more than halfway full with oil. Heat oil to 370 degrees F.

  • Combine flour, cornmeal, and 1 tablespoon Essence in a shallow pan or bowl. Remove the calamari from the buttermilk mixture and toss in the flour mixture to coat completely. Carefully add the calamari, in batches, to the hot oil and fry until coating is crisp and golden, about 1 minute. Do not over-crowd the pan when frying. Remove to paper towels to drain. Season with additional Essence. Serve immediately with the Marinara Sauce for dipping.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

  • 2 tablespoons salt

  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

  • Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

  • Yield: 2/3 cup

  • Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Marinara Sauce:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1/4 cup chopped pancetta or bacon

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 (35-ounce) cans whole Italian plum tomatoes, crushed with your hands, with juices

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat and, when hot, add the pancetta and cook until golden brown and slightly crispy, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the onion and cook until softened and beginning to caramelize, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes along with their juices and stir to combine. Add the oregano, salt, and crushed red pepper, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the sauce is slightly thickened. Add the basil, stir to combine, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

  • Yield: about 2 quarts

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes

  • Cook Time: 40 minutes

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