Calamares Fritos Recipe – Authentic Spanish Calamari

This calamares fritos recipe is a classic tapas recipe for Spanish calamari. One of the most classic Spanish tapas and easy to find throughout Spain, calamari is breaded squid, which is breaded and deep-fried. I learned this recipe while living in Spain and traveling through Andalusia.

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What Are Calamares Fritos

Calamares is the Spanish word for calamari, most commonly thought of as an Italian dish. Calamares fritos is fried Calamari in Spanish. It’s just one of many tasty fried Spanish tapas, including Spanish ham croquettes.

Although it’s possible to find it throughout Spain, the dish is probably most associated with Andalusia, in the south of Spain. In Andalusia, the dish is most commonly known as Calamares a la Romana or Calamares a la Andaluza. This recipe is for the Andaluza version. The Romana version includes eggs. 

You can find this tapas dish at bars throughout Seville and Malaga. We have eaten Calamares Fritos in both cities. Because Malaga is on the water, the quality of the calamari is slightly better. If you are traveling to Malaga, make sure to visit Marisquería Casa Vicente for the best calamares fritos in the city.

Calamares Fritos Recipe - Authentic Spanish Calamari
Calamares Fritos Recipe – Authentic Spanish Calamari

Learn more about Spanish cuisine, with some of our other Spanish recipes:

The Best Authentic Spanish Tapas Recipes

Tasty Spanish Vegan Tapas Recipes

Champinones Al Ajillo – Spanish Mushroom Tapas Recipe

Spanish Alioli Garlic Sauce – An Easy To Make Spanish Aioli Recipe

Salsa Bravas Recipe – Spanish Bravas Sauce For Potatoes

Ingredients For This Calamares Fritos Recipes

The most important of the calamares ingredients is the squid, and it’s probably the ingredient that many people might be unfamiliar with cooking from scratch.

Aside from the fresh squid rings, the calamari is breaded with a combination of regular flour and chickpea flour, which is what gives the calamari a great texture. The chickpea flour also doesn’t weigh down the breading too much. The calamari is cooked in good-quality olive oil and sprinkled with olive oil. 

Key ingredients for this recipe for Spanish calamari

  • Squid rings
  • Olive oil
  • Plain flour and chickpea flour
  • Salt
  • Lemon for serving
How to serve Spanish calamari with lemon

How To Clean Calamari Rings

This calamares recipe might be a little intimidating, but cooking squid at home is not as difficult as people think. When it comes to how to cook calamares, it’s important to ensure the squid is fresh and not frozen, if possible.

If you have a good fishmonger, they probably can clean, prepare, and even cut the squid for you. Just tell them you are making a calamari recipe.  

When you are cleaning the squid rings on your own, be sure to remove the spines, squid ink sacks, and heads. Discard all of those bits (unless you have a recipe to use the ink).

If the fresh squid had tentacles, those can be cooked along with the rings. Rinse and clean all of the squid pieces, and pat them dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. 

Calamares recipe

How To Make Spanish Calamares

After cleaning the squid, cut it into round slices, around a half inch wide. On a large plate, combine the flour and chickpea flour. Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, begin breading the squid rings in the flour.

Coat the slices with the flour and fry in olive oil until golden on both sides, about ___ minutes each side. Repeat with all of the calamares rings, without crowding the pan. Remove the calamari and place on a plate covered with paper towels to drain. Sprinkle it with salt. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice just before serving. 

When it comes to how to make calamari tender, the key is using fresh squid and not overcooking it. I know there is a temptation sometimes to overcook seafood to ensure it is cooked all the way through. In the end, though, less cooking time is preferable to keep it tender and tasty. 

It is possible to make this recipe with frozen calamari as well. If using frozen squid, defrost the squid ahead of time, rinse it, and pat dry. 

Tips For Cooking Calamares Fritos

  • The oil for frying should preferably be olive oil, but if you prefer a milder flavour, you can use another vegetable oil.
  • For proper frying, coat the squid with flour just before frying. Otherwise, the flour will absorb the moisture and the result will be more chunky. 
  • Calamares fritos are done two ways in Spain: “calamares a la andaluza”, which are coated with just flour, and “calamares a la romana”, which are coated with both egg and flour. This recipe is for “calamares a la andaluza”.

How To Serve Spanish Calamari Tapas

Squid calamari recipe

This recipe can be served as a main course with a side dish of vegetables or potatoes. Or, it makes a classic addition to a Spanish tapas night. The calamares can be served simply, with a slice of lemon. To make it more Catalan, serve it with a classic romesco sauce or Spanish aioli. 

FAQs – Calamares Fritos Recipe

What is the secret to tender calamari?

Lots of people have their secret for making calamari tender. One of the most popular is to bathe the calamari in a salt and milk mixture. Salt is a natural tenderizer that helps break down or soften proteins like meat or fish. A 30-minute marinade in this salt/milk solution will soften calamari to the point when it’s ready to be fried.

How do you make crispy calamares?

Two factors are most important to making crispy calamares. The heat of the oil and the temperature of the calamares. The cooking oil for the calamares needs to be at a high enough temperature that the calamares cook immediately. Otherwise, it will become soggy. The calamares can’t be “cold” when you cook them. Remove the calamares from the refrigerator 20-25 minutes before cooking. This ensures that when they hit the hot oil, they don’t reduce the cooking temperature.

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