Of course, there are other ways to prepare the batter, and there are formulas that do not include any alcohol. Some cooks like to dredge the squid rings in flour, dip them in beaten eggs and coat them in bread crumbs before frying. Others dip the squid rings in a thickish batter made with iced water and flour before they go into the hot oil.
Here at home, we do it differently. My daughter, Alex, who cooked the calamari, made the batter with cold beer and vodka. Why beer and vodka? Beer is naturally bubbly and those little bubbles help lighten the batter. And by “lighten”, I do not mean the color but, rather, the texture. Vodka adds to the lightness even more.
The squid rings were tossed lightly in seasoned flour before dipping them in the batter to help prevent the batter from sliding off the slippery squid rings. The seasoning came in three stages. The squid rings were seasoned with salt and pepper before they were tossed in flour to which lemon pepper seasoning had been whisked in. The batter contained the third layer of seasonings.
If you like squid (or if you’re just a fan of crispy calamari), knowing how to clean fresh whole squids is an indispensable skill. See our illustrated guide.
For the dipping sauce
- ½ cup ketchup
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- Rinse the squid rings, drain well and wipe with paper towels.
- Toss the squids with two teaspoons salt and and a quarter teaspoon pepper.
- In a bowl, whisk two tablespoons flour with the lemon and pepper seasoning.
- Add the seasoned squids and toss to lightly coat each piece with the flour mixture.
- Make the batter by stirring together the starch, remaining flour, beer, vodka, cayenne and the remaining salt and pepper.
- Pour enough cooking oil in a frying pan to reach a depth of at least two inches. Bring the temperature of the oil to 350F. If you don’t use a thermometer, watch out for fine wisps of smoke to float on the surface of the oil.
- Cook the squid rings in batches. Dip each piece of squid in the batter and drop into the hot oil. Repeat until you have six to eight pieces frying in the oil. Cook the squid for one to one and a half minutes per side. DO NOT overcook.
- When the squid pieces are done, scoop out and move to a strainer. Repeat until all the squids are battered and deep fried.
- Pile the deep fried squid on a platter.
- Stir together the ketchup and mayo in a small bowl and serve on the side as a dipping sauce.