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Battered calamari is a dish that can be prepared using fresh or frozen calamari, or squid, by coating the calamari in batter and deep frying it. A number of different types of batters and coatings can be used, such as coating the calamari pieces in buttermilk and then dredging them through seasoned flour. Beer batter can also be used to provide a different flavor and texture. Battered calamari can include both the tentacles of the squid as well as the body or “mantle,” which is usually cut into rings before battering and frying.
Calamari is a name for cooked squid, which comes from the plural form of the Italian word for squid calamaro. There are many ways in which battered calamari can be prepared, though it usually involves the squid being cut up into numerous pieces before being battered and fried. The body of the calamari, which essentially consists of a tube with the top of the squid at one end and the tentacles at the other, is usually separated from the tentacles and emptied and cleaned, then cut across the length of the mantle to produce rings. These rings are often used with the tentacles to make battered calamari, though some restaurants or cooks may prefer to only use the rings since some eaters may find the tentacles unsightly.
Though there are numerous ways to prepare battered calamari, simple preparations use a basic batter and flour coating. Buttermilk, without any other additions, can be used as a batter for calamari, which is often dredged through flour after being coated in the buttermilk. This flour is usually seasoned with salt, pepper, cayenne, and other seasonings to add extra flavor. The battered calamari is then fried in very hot oil for only a minute or two, until it is golden brown and crispy.
Battered calamari can also be prepared using a beer batter, rather than buttermilk and flour. Beer is typically combined with flour and other seasonings, like salt, pepper, and spices, to form a thick but wet batter. The rings and tentacles can then be coated in this beer batter and fried until crispy and brown in the same way as buttermilk-battered pieces. After either type of battered calamari is fried, it should be removed to a tray or plate to drain, lightly salted immediately, and then served plain or with dipping sauce such as marinara or tartar sauce.