So you’re sitting at a restaurant, and you see the table next to you get something called calamari. It’s golden brown, fried, and smells great, but you have no idea what calamari is and if you should order some for yourself.

For those who don’t know, calamari is squid and usually it’s served battered and deep-fried. Why is this dish made from squid called calamari, you may wonder? Calamari is actually the Italian word for squid, and it is a popular dish in Mediterranean cuisines.

Typically, we see calamari made with European squid, which roams all over our oceans today and is very plentiful in the Mediterranean. In the United States, this type of squid might not be as popular, but there are similar species that can be found along the California coast that make up a tasty treat as well. Squids that are typically used for calamari can be anywhere from 12 to 24 inches long when fully grown.

So, what if you want to try to make your own calamari at home? The first step would be to clean your squid and prepare it. This includes removing its head, viscera, and inner cartilage, as well as its fins and skin. The edible portion of the squid would be its tentacles and body. You can slice your squid crosswise or prepare it in rings, which is popular in restaurants.

To cook your calamari, you want to keep your batter thin and light. The goal is to have a light and crispy squid, not something that is heavy and really bready. You want to cook your calamari fast as well. So, throw it into the fryer for three minutes, and it’s finished. Some methods include cooking your calamari for a really long time too, like three hours or longer to get the perfect crisp. The weird thing about calamari is if you cook it anywhere between those two times, it can come out tough and rubbery.

Calamari is usually served as an appetizer that is paired with lemon and parsley and served with a dipping sauce. You can upgrade you calamari though and simmer it with some tomato sauce and pour over pasta for a seafood dish, or it can be sauteed and grilled to go with some veggies. We are used to seeing it crunchy and battered, but this squid is actually a really versatile dish that you can do a lot with.

Now you know precisely what calamari is and how to prepare and cook it for yourself. Eating squid may sound a little daunting, but if you prepare it right and season it accordingly, you will have a delicious snack on your hands.

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