How to fry calamari

How to fry calamari

Do you love fried calamari, but struggle to recreate the magic at home? Our deputy food editor, Khanya Mzongwana, is here to save the day. She takes you through how to successfully season and fry calamari so it’s perfect every time.

Calamari is delicious when prepared well. This is my go-to recipe for fried calamari and it’s so easy it’s practically foolproof. Woolworths now stocks fresh calamari and tentacles at their seafood counters, and all the cleaning has been done for your convenience. So, the next time you see it, be sure to grab it!

Preparing the calamari

When coating the calamari, make sure all the pieces are individually coated, making sure to shake off any excess flour. If you’re using small calamari, this will be light work, but if you’re using larger pieces, cut it into thick rings and soak in milk for about 30 minutes before cooking. Season your flour well – this is the crucial step in flavouring your calamari.

Tips when frying calamari

Heat an adequate amount of oil to fry the calamari, rather have a lot than a little. And be sure not to overcrowd the pan when frying, as that may cause the oil to cool, which means the calamari won’t crisp up. When the calamari is cooked, drain on kitchen paper to absorb excess oil, there’s nothing worse than oily calamari!

How to avoid tough calamari

To prevent your calamari from becoming tough and chewy, take care not to cook it for longer than the allocated time. Remove it from the hot oil as soon as it crisps up and turns light golden brown. As a rule, fry tentacles for 1 minute, and 2-and-a-half minutes for the tubes, and no longer.

Step-by-step fried calamari


180 g flour
80 g cornflour
1 t baking powder
2 t salt
1 t black pepper
1 t smoked paprika
500 g calamari, cleaned
canola oil, for frying
½ cup mayonnaise
2 T gochujang paste
lime wedges, for serving


  1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornflour, baking powder, salt, pepper and paprika.

    Step 1

  2. Dredge the calamari in the flour mixture, making sure each piece is completely covered and that the pieces don't stick together. Shake off the excess flour and place the calamari on a plate.

    Step 2

  3. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Drop one piece of calamari into the oil and, if it sizzles, the oil is ready. Fry the calamari in 2–3 batches and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 3 minutes per batch.

    Step 3

  4. Lift the calamari out of the oil using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Combine the mayonnaise and gochujang in a small bowl. Serve the calamari with the gochujang mayo, lime wedges and a fresh salad if you like.

    Step 4

Social Media

Related Recipes