What Is Stuffed Calamari?

Angela Farrer

Stuffed calamari is a seafood dish consisting of hollowed-out calamari filled with stuffing and typically fried in cooking oil. Many stuffed calamari recipes call for stuffing made from sausage, shrimp, crab meat, and bread crumbs, as well as various vegetables for added flavor. Stuffing calamari typically involves filling only the body cavities of these small squid after the innards and tentacles have been removed, and these prepared calamari bodies are often called calamari tubes. Due to the precision required to correctly cut them, calamari tubes are often available frozen and ready to stuff once thawed.

Fresh squid used for calamari.
Fresh squid used for calamari.

Many recipes for stuffed calamari call for the finished calamari to be served over pasta, such as angel hair or linguine, with tomato or marinara sauce. Some cooks prefer to make this type of red sauce from scratch, while others like to simply add seasonings such as garlic salt and black pepper to canned tomato sauce. Some other recipes call for serving the fried calamari with a white wine sauce instead.

Cooking sherry, which is often used to make stuffed calamrari.
Cooking sherry, which is often used to make stuffed calamrari.

Some basic recipes for calamari stuffing call for bread crumbs and the cook's choice of grated cheese to be mixed together with the crab bits, shrimp, and any other meats of choice. A raw egg and a small amount of water, lemon juice, or milk usually help bind all of these ingredients together. Favorite stuffing seasonings include basil, oregano, and fresh minced garlic.

While some home cooks like to coat their stuffed calamari in additional bread crumbs and drop each into a deep fryer, others prefer to bake this dish in the oven for a dish with less fat content. The typical bake time for many stuffed calamari recipes is roughly 20 to 25 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (about 177 degrees Celsius).

A common mistake for beginners to this recipe is to over-stuff the calamari. Experienced cooks recommend leaving a noticeable amount of room at the opening of each calamari tube. This allows for the stuffing to expand while cooking.

Popular chopped vegetables for this dish include bell peppers, green onions, and celery. For a richer texture and taste, some cooks prefer to mix these with the chopped meat or seafood and a measured amount of cream cheese or sour cream instead of milk or water. Cooking sherry, along with the lemon juice, can also help bring out the seafood flavors in this dish.

Fresh basil leaves are often used to season stuffed calamari.
Fresh basil leaves are often used to season stuffed calamari.

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