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Cooking Calamari

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Tomorrow I'm going to buy unbreaded calamari from the frozen foods section for the first time (I've previously bought the breaded frozen calamari rings).

The reason for the switch is cost: I can get 16 oz. for $6, whereas two boxes of the frozen/breaded variety will cost me $8.

So my question: how do I cook the calamari? When I looked at the package in the store (while scoping out prices) today, it had no oven temperature instructions listed.

The frozen breaded calamari rings can be cooked at 425 for approx. 13-15 mins. Should I follow a similar process if I want to bake the frozen plain calamari?

Or should I heat the plain calamari in a skillet? If so, at what temperature and for what length of time?

I'd prefer to bake it in the oven for a healthier result, but I'm willing to use the deep electric skillet if that'll give me a safer result.
post #2 of 11
What sort of result are you looking for here? I mean, what is the dish apart from the squid?

Myself, I haven't had a lot of luck with frozen squid, and where I live (either in Japan or the US) fresh squid are very cheap, so it's never been an issue. But I usually saute them over very high heat, which produces a quite different result from the sort of baking you're talking about, thus my question about what result you're looking for.
post #3 of 11
The frozen breaded variety has typically been deep fried quickly before freezing. To get a similar product with the unbreaded calamari, thaw then cut the calamari into strips/rings, dredge in seasoned flour, an egg wash and either more seasoned flour or bread crumbs. Deep fry at 350 degrees and serve with marinara sauce.

If you don't want to deep fry the product, I agree with ChrisLeher; saute at high heat for just few minutes and toss with pasta or salad.
post #4 of 11
For a lighter fried dish, after you cut up the calamari, dip in milk and then in flour. Shake off excess flour (use a sieve so that the flour falls back in the bowl) and deep fry just until the flour is golden, less than a minute. Drain, salt, and yum. :lips: (This is how I did it when I was "calamari girl" making the amuse at Le Bernardin.)

Good advice about sautéeing quickly. I like to marinate whole small calamari in oil and spices first, then drain and toss in a very hot cast-iron skillet. Again, just a minute or so is all it takes.

You can also make a bread crumb-cheese-herb mixture, stuff it into the bodies, and then braise them in tomato sauce for 45 minutes or so. Throw in some fresh green peas near the end, and serve with rice or pasta.

The general rule is cook it for 45 seconds or 45 minutes; nothing in between. It gets tough in the middle range and then needs the long cooking to soften again. (I'm supposing that the time for the frozen rings is just to thaw and cook the coating.)
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #5 of 11
I'd always heard it as the 2/20 rule. You cook calamari for less than two minutes or more than 20.

But Suzanne's 45/45 rule actually makes more sense. I've found that if you deep fry for more than a minute the squid starts to toughen. When poaching for a salad I dip the rings and pieces into simmering liquid for no more than 30 seconds, and they come out just fine.

On the other end, when making things like stuffed, baked, squid, 20 minutes doesn't quite do it.

As to your specific question. The cooking time on the breaded frozen rings is based on the fact you are putting them in the oven frozen. I would not advise that with your plain squid. Let them defrost overnight in the fridge. Give them a rinse, dry on paper towels, then prepare as you wish.

Also, be aware that even though the frozen squid are cleaned there occasionally is a quill remaining. These look like crystal-clear strips of plastic, and you want to discard them.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #6 of 11
working in a country club as "calamari boy" aka pantry chef (whoooo so fancy a title:p) more then once I would find a quill, partial beak and even a fish or two in the cone. always inspect your proteins.
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
To answer the earlier questions:

The result I'm looking for is basically a cooked squid that will be "chewable," and one that I won't get sick from due to being undercooked. :p

So if I choose to saute it for no more than 45 seconds, what temperature should I saute it at? Or if I'm going with the saute route, will I want to do the full 45 minutes at a lower temperature?
post #8 of 11
45 seconds: saute blazing hot

45 minutes: braise, boil, simmer, roast, whatever, but not saute
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
If I choose the option to simmer or boil for 45 minutes, what temperature should I slow-cook it at?

Both my boiler and my skillet have a temperature range from 0 (presumably) to 400.
(Actually, the dial starts at "WARM" and the first actual temperature number listed on it is "200", then intervals of 50 up through 400; both are made by Presto)
post #10 of 11
Unless you boil it in oil, you're not going to get the cooking medium hotter than 212 degrees F. Simmering is just below a boil, with a few bubbles rising now and then. So if you're using an electric cooker, turn it all the way up to get the liquid boiling faster, then turn it down to around 200 once you've added the calamari. I never thought about using a slow cooker, since I usually sauté mine, but that's actually a good idea. Oh, and don't forget to salt the water well.

Undercooked probably won't make you sick, anyway. Iirc, the most likely pathogens are parasites, and they would have been killed by the freezing.

Gunnar and KYH raise a good point: make sure they are well-cleaned. If they were frozen uncleaned (you'll know: they'll be inky), after they thaw, pull everything out of the inside and rinse well. Even cleaned, they might still have some quill. (I had to clean fresh ones every day. Yuck.)
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #11 of 11
I have played with calamari a lot at home to replicate what we all know as the favorite appetizer but the reality of it is, if you don't deep fry it, you'll never achieve that same outside crisp and the calamari being done properly.

As a food, it cooks extremely fast at a high heat so the 45 seconds is very real. However, to get that heat out of your saute pan, you're not going to be able to bread it..

If you bought the cleaned calamari (tubes & tentacles), as mentioned make sure to check them as I too have pulled many a beak and rib from them.

If you'd like to try doing a stuffed calamari.. cut open the tubes and season with olive oil, salt & pepper. Make a stuffing with some bread crumbs, parsley (fresh), chopped tentacles, garlic and cherry tomatoes cut in half. Place the filling in the center of each tube and seal with a toothpick at the top. Drizzle a little more olive oil and a splash of white wine over the top. Bake it at 350 for about 20 minutes.... You can serve it with a parsley pesto on the side.
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