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Tempura Fried Calamari

Tempura Fried Calamari

Squid rings or tentacles dipped in a light tempura batter and quickly fried in hot oil. Addictive as popcorn!

Photography Credit:Elise Bauer

Do you like fried calamari? If so, just imagine the lightest, crispiest, melt-in-your-mouth-iest coating over the most tender squid, and this would be it. The tempura version.

I love fried calamari, but you know what? After this tempura, I’m not going back. This is just too good. Eat the whole batch good.

And oddly enough, it’s light, or at least a lot lighter than the heavy cornmeal coating you usually find on its Italian cousin.

Tempura is a Japanese preparation of batter-dipped, deep fried foods, usually vegetables and seafood. Apparently the method was introduced to Japan by the Portuguese in the 1500s.

When I lived in Japan we ate it frequently, and tempura can usually be found on practically every menu in typical Japanese restaurants here in the states.

The batter is quite light, and fries up to a gossamer-like crispy crust. The tricks are 1) keeping the oil at the right temperature—too hot and the food will burn, too cool and the result will be greasy, and 2) working quickly while keeping the batter cold.

Another nifty trick for keeping the batter light, taught to me by Hank, is to use bubbly soda water instead of flat water.

Squid is a perfect food for making tempura because it cooks up so fast. Squid you either have to cook very quickly, or slow and low. Anything in between and it’s chewy and rubbery.

So the quick frying in tempura batter is ideal for squid. Of course if you would rather use other seafood, you can use this batter with shrimp, pieces of lobster, oysters, clams, small fish, or pieces of larger fish.

Or you can skip the seafood altogether and just tempura fry some vegetables, like strips of carrot or broccoli florets.

Tempura Fried Calamari Recipe

The squid rings cut from the body are easier to fry than the tentacles, which tend to clump. If you have both, fry the rings first, then the tentacles.

Do not double the recipe. The batter needs to be kept cold and used immediately after making. So it's better to work with small batches.

If you want to make more, mix a second batch together after you've gone through the first batch.


  • 1 pound cleaned squid
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup ice cold sparkling water (the colder the better)
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup rice or regular flour plus more for sprinkling on squid
  • Peanut oil or canola oil for frying
  • A deep fryer


1 Slice the squid tubes into rings: Slice the squid tubes into rings about 1/2-inch to 3/4-inch wide. Leave the tentacles whole.

2 Heat oil in a deep fryer or large heavy pot: This recipe was designed for a deep-fryer, but you can also fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot (keep a lid nearby, for safety reasons) halfway with oil, about 3 inches deep. Heat the oil to 360-370°F.

3 Mix dry ingredients: While the oil is heating, mix all the dry ingredients together well.

4 Mix sparkling water with egg yolk, then mix with dry ingredients: Once the oil has reached 360°F, take the sparkling water out of the refrigerator and mix it with the egg yolk. Immediately mix it in with the dry ingredients.

Mix quickly. Do not worry if there are clumps or lumps. Over-mixing may cause the batter to become chewy when cooked.

5 Sprinkle squid pieces with flour. Use a small sieve to lightly dust the squid pieces with rice flour or regular flour. This will help the batter adhere to the squid.

6 Dip squid pieces in batter and fry in hot oil: Working in small batches at a time (about 6 pieces), dip the squid pieces in the batter. Pick them up one by one and gently put them in the hot oil. (Note if your fingers are coated with the batter, it will help protect them from splatter.)

When the squid pieces are in the oil, use a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to dislodge any squid pieces that may have become stuck from the bottom of the pot or fryer. Fry for 45 seconds to 1 minute, and remove to paper towels to drain.

Note that when done, they will NOT be golden brown, but more of a pale yellow or tan.

Repeat with the rest of the squid. Working in batches will help keep the oil temperature from falling too far while you are frying the squid.

6 Serve immediately: Serve immediately with lime or lemon wedges, soy sauce, ponzu sauce, Tabasco or another hot sauce.

Once the cooking oil has completely cooled (after about 2 hours), strain it through a paper towel-lined sieve, and save it to reuse the next time you want to deep fry seafood.

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Monsoon Cafe Calamari Tempura

DEAR SOS: My friends and I recently had a plate of calamari, served with a sauce, at Monsoon Cafe in Santa Monica. It was delicious. We wonder if you could get the recipe.

DEAR JOHN: Executive chef Hitoshi Hakamato was delighted to share this excellent calamari tempura served with curry mayonnaise. You can prepare the batter and sauce beforehand, leaving the frying for the last minute.

Combine salt, pepper, garlic, fish sauce, wine, eggs, paprika and hot pepper sauce in blender and blend 30 seconds. Pour mixture into large bowl and stir in flour just until combined do not over-mix.

Add calamari. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour. Just before cooking, stir cornstarch into calamari mixture. (This step is important to give calamari a crispy texture).

Heat oil in large deep saucepan to 375 degrees on thermometer or until pinch of flour dropped into oil bubbles. Drop small batch of calamari into hot oil. Do not crowd pan. Cook in batches until calamari rings are golden brown and crispy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain on paper towels. Keep fried calamari in warm oven until all calamari are cooked.

To serve, fill each lettuce leaf with 1 cup calamari. Serve with Curry Mayonnaise.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound calamari tubes, thawed if frozen
  • peanut oil for frying
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (Optional)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (Optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, or to taste
  • 1 wedge lemon

Check calamari for breaks and slice into 1/8- to 1/4-inch rings.

Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Place 2 cups flour in a bowl. Whisk milk and eggs together in a separate bowl. Place remaining 4 cups flour, cornstarch, paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a third bowl mix thoroughly.

Toss calamari rings in the plain flour. Move to the egg mixture and thoroughly coat. Move to the seasoned flour and coat fully. Move back to egg mixture if not thoroughly coated coat with seasoned flour again.

Submerge floured calamari in the hot oil until golden, 3 to 4 minutes per batch. Lift out with a slotted spoon, letting oil drip off. Drain on paper towels. Place calamari in a small bowl check seasoning. Add parsley and lemon wedge for garnish.

How to Make Fried Calamari:

To get started with the calamari, cut the squid into tubes, then soak in lemon juice for 30 minutes:

This tenderizes the squid and adds flavor.

Next, mix flour with cayenne pepper, paprika, and salt:

Split this between two bowls, then add buttermilk or milk to a third bowl.

Remove the squid from the lemon juice, then dredge in the flour:

Then into the buttermilk or milk:

Then into the second duplicate bowl of flour:

Then deep fry the calamari in batches, for 2-3 minutes:

The calamari should be golden brown and crispy! Drain on a paper towel, and immediately salt the calamari so the seasoning sticks:

Serve plain, with marinara sauce, lemon wedges, or aioli:

Potato Croquettes and these Mozzarella Sticks are two more crispy treats that I enjoy making on occasion. Enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Calamari the Same as Squid?

Calamari is the Italian word for squid. In the United States, fried calamari is basically fried squid.

It&rsquos made of squid and its tentacles, battered or coated with a flour mixture and then deep fried.

What is the Best Coating for Fried Calamari?

For extra crispy fried squid, coat the calamari rings and tentacles with a mixture of all purpose flour and cornstarch.

The ratio of all purpose flour and cornstarch is 2:1. Another secret ingredient is egg.

Add a beaten egg to the squid before coating with the flour and cornstarch mixture. Make sure the coating is even.

Shake off the excess coating before deep frying and you will have the best and crispiest fried squid.

Can I Pay Fry Instead of Deep Fry?

For the best results, I don&rsquot recommend pan frying. However, you can shallow fry the squid and get the same results.

All you have to do is add some oil to a skillet, 1 inch high from the bottom of the skillet. Shallow fry the squid until golden brown.

You can also use an air fryer for this recipe.

How Many Calories Per Serving?

This recipe is only 303 calories per serving.


1. Clean the calamari and cut the bodies into thick rings, reserving the tentacles separately. 2. Mix the milk and lemon juice in a large bowl. 3. Let rest for 5 minutes until it thickens. Add the garlic hot sauce. Add the calamari and soak in the buttermilk for up to 4 hours. 4. In a bowl, mix the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, paprika and cayenne. Beat the eggs in another bowl. 5. Remove the calamari from the buttermilk and drain. Dip into the beaten egg, and then the flour mixture. 6. Fill a heavy skillet with 2 cups vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat to 360 degrees F. 7. Fry the calamari, in batches, until brown and crispy, about 4 minutes. 8. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Shrimp Tempura with Sesame Soy Dipping Sauce

Staying hydrated is important in the fall and winter just as it is in the summertime. I keep a big water bottle at the office which I refill throughout the day and sip on seltzer water if I am craving for something carbonated. For those of you find regular water boring, seltzer water is a great alternative because it gives you the satisfaction of a fizzy drink without extra calories.

Aside from being a great thirst quencher, did you know that seltzer is a versatile ingredient for baking and cooking? You can use it in tempura batter which is super easy to whip up. The carbonation in the water is what makes the batter light and fluffy! Shrimp is then dipped into the batter and deep fried for several minutes, long enough for the coating to crisp up and become golden brown.

Once you’ve got this recipe down, there are so many options. You can serve them with the sesame soy dipping sauce I’m sharing below, or dip them in Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, or use them in sushi rolls if you so desire.

Not a fan of shrimp? Try it with fish or calamari. Another bonus: you can use the same batter to make vegetable tempura broccoli, sweet potatoes, and eggplant work really well.

I used Vintage Seltzer original for this recipe because I didn’t need to add any flavor to the batter. Meanwhile, for sipping you have 10 natural flavors like Black Cherry and Seedless Watermelon to choose from. And they’re all sugar-free and calorie-free without added colors.

I hope you get to try this recipe soon, and while you’re at it, be sure to grab this coupon. I found the 12-pack Vintage Seltzer cans in the beverage aisle of my local supermarket – I like to keep some in the fridge for maximum carbonation. You can find their products near you using this store locator.





Preheat the sunflower oil in a deep fat fryer or medium-sized, deep saucepan to 180˚C.

Whisk the egg and sparkling water together in a bowl until well combined.

Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Gently whisk in the egg mixture until it forms a smooth batter.

Pat the calamari rings dry with paper towel. Dip the calamari rings in the batter until well coated. Deep-fry in batches, 3 – 4 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and drain the calamari on paper towel. Repeat these steps with the remaining ingredients.

For the dip, combine the yoghurt, feta and Dijon mustard, lemon zest and juice and garlic clove in the bowl of a food processor. Blitz until smooth. Season to taste. Serve the tempura-fried calamari with the feta dip and lemon wedges for squeezing.


This Tempura Crumbed Calamari is crispy & delicious. It’s a great meal as a starter or as a side to a dish.

Tempura is a Japanese dish of fish or vegetables that have been battered & deep fried.

Calamari is a culinary name for squid, particularly for dishes from the Mediterranean, prominently seared squid (fried calamari). Squid is a well known nourishment in numerous parts of the world.

Tempura Crumbed Calamari Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons flour
  • salt to taste
  • cooking oil for deep frying
  • 1 tablespoon Kashmiri chilli powder or Paprika
  • pinch of dried mixed herbs (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs (or any other brand)
  • Calamari rings – about a dozen
  1. Rinse calamari rings or pieces & pat dry with a paper towel. Place in a bowl & set aside.
  2. Have out three separate bowls.
  3. In one of the bowls, add in the flour.
  4. Add the salt, pinch of dried mixed herbs (optional) & the Kashmiri chilli powder/Paprika to the bowl of flour.
  5. Mix well & set aside.
  6. In the second bowl, crack in two eggs.
  7. Beat the eggs using a fork or whisk. Set aside.
  8. In the third bowl, drop in the breadcrumbs.
  9. You should now have all three bowls ready to begin coating the calamari rings or pieces.
  10. Place them in order (from left to right), flour mixture, beaten eggs & breadcrumbs. Place the bowl of calamari near them as well. Have a separate plate or tray out to place coated calamari’s on.
  11. Next, using the dominant hand, place a calamari ring/piece into the flour mixture. (One hand should be used for dipping into dry mixtures & the other hand for the wet mixture).
  12. Coat it well with the flour mixture & then using the other hand, drop the calamari into the beaten eggs. Coat well.
  13. Thereafter, going back to the dominant hand, drop the coated calamari into the breadcrumbs.
  14. Coat well & set aside on a plate or tray.
  15. Do the same for all the calamari rings/pieces.
  16. When all the calamari rings/pieces are coated, heat the cooking oil in a pot. It should be about halfway filled with oil as the calamari will be deep fried. Alternatively use a deep fryer.
  17. When the oil is sizzling hot, carefully drop in one calamari at a time.
  18. Do not over crowd the pot.
  19. Fry them for less than 3 minutes to avoid the calamari becoming chewy.
  20. Once browned, remove & set on a paper towel to drain off excess oil.
  21. Serve immediately to avoid soggy & soft coating.
  22. Best served with Tartar Sauce.

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Watch the video: Tempura Calamari with salted egg dip recipe (December 2021).