What is calamari?
Calamari is the Greek word for squid. A fish that belongs to the mollusk family and quite popular in Mediterranean and Asian cuisines.
It is important to mention that you shouldn't confuse them with the octopus, they are distantly related, but it is not the same fish.
English speakers started using the word calamari in the 17th century and nowadays, it’s used to refer mainly to dishes that contain squid (especially when breaded and deep-fried). It is also colloquially used as an upscale term to refer to squid because, well, it sounds more enticing.
Most North Americans only only eat calamari at restaurants because they don’t n
What’s the taste of calamari?
Calamari has a unique flavor and the taste can also change depending on how you cook it. For example, deep fried calamari is crunchy outside but is best when it remains soft and tender on the inside. There are many tricks and myths to ensure it stays tender, for example like marinating it in baking soda for 24 hours, but the best way is to find a good quality product from a reliable source!
Generally calamari meat is firm and has a mild and slightly sweet flavor. But again, keep in mind that the taste will change depending on how you cook it.
Is calamari good for you?
Calamari is one of the cheapest proteins money can buy, especially as compared to seafood.
Calamari is safe to eat and it’s quite rich in vitamins and minerals although, like any other food, you should avoid overconsumption since calamari has high cholesterol, sodium and saturated fat levels.
Studies show that a 8-ounce serving of boiled or steamed squid contains 206 calories, 3.1 grams of fat and 35 grams of protein. And if you consume it fried, the most popular way, the calories go up to 473 in just an 8-ounce serving. So yeah, it is healthy for you but consider how and how much you eat.
How to cook calamari?
There are different ways to cook calamari, with the deep-fried, or ‘Greek-style’ calamari being the most popular.
Deep-fried calamari consist of floured and battered, deep-fried calamari rings and tentacles. Most people get a cleaned tubes and tentacles product for this so there’s less work to do.
There’s also the calamari steak which is the calamari body flattened and cut into pieces. It can also be eaten raw as sashimi, in dishes like sushi (the Japanese word for squid is ‘Ika’). Or even in a light European inspired squid salad for brunch.
Some other popular methods include calamari french fries, stuffing the tubes with red meat like lamb and baking, or using a textured product called “pineapple cut” tubes and frying Asian style in a wok.
There’s plenty of recipes for calamari so it’s up to you to decide how you want to cook it.
How to store calamari?
Because calamari does not have thick skin to protect it from pathogens, it usually has a shorter shelf life. If you can even find it fresh, you should make sure to cook it the same day. In North America, the fish distribution networks are not usually set up for day boat fisheries, so it's extremely hard to find fresh calamari. Whereas you’re much more likely to find fresh calamari in Mediterranean or Asian countries in coastal towns.
What formats does calamari come in?
That said, most calamari will come frozen. You can find it in lots of different formats, such as:
- cleaned tubes & tentacles
- cleaned tubes only
- uncleaned whole
- strips (ready for making calamari french fries)
- pineapple cut (ready for making an Asian wok)
- squid balls (for hot pot)
In conclusion, remember that calamari is just the Greek word for squid. And there’s so many different ways to enjoy this tasty mollusk.
If you’re ever searching for new flavors or something new to cook at home, you should try it with one of the ways we’ve recommended. Don’t be scared because it's different, activate the adventurer in you - you won’t be disappointed!! Even if it doesn’t turn out the first time, it wouldn’t be an expensive mistake, and the second time will likely be delicious!
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