Battered and Fried Squid

Perfectly cooked squid (or almost anything else for that matter) in a crisp coating.
TIME 40 minutes
MAKES 6 to 8 servings
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1 cup all-purpose flour for the batter, plus 1½ cups for dredging
1 egg
¾ cup sparkling water, beer, or cold tap water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ pounds cleaned squid, tubes cut into ⅓-inch rings, tentacles cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lemon, quartered, for serving

1 Put at least 2 inches of oil in a large pot over medium heat. (Use an oil thermometer clipped to the side if you have one.) While the oil heats, combine 1 cup of the flour, the egg, the sparkling water, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk together; the batter should be fairly thin (a little lumpy is fine). Put the remaining 1½ cups flour in a shallow bowl and stir in a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

2 The oil is ready at 350°F. If you don’t have a thermometer, put a drop of batter into the oil: It should bubble vigorously but not turn brown right away. Adjust the heat as necessary. If the oil starts to smoke, remove it from the heat immediately to cool a bit.

3 A few pieces at a time, dredge the squid in the flour, shake off any excess, then dip it in the batter, shaking off any excess batter as well. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, carefully drop the squid into the oil. Cook, turning the pieces as necessary with a slotted spoon, until they are crisp and pale golden, just a minute or two.

4 As the squid finishes cooking, transfer the pieces to the paper towels to drain and sprinkle with a little salt. Repeat the dredging, battering, and frying process until all the squid is cooked. Serve right away with lemon wedges.

  • Deep-Fried Squid Marinara. The classic combo: Serve with warmed Tomato Sauce for dipping.
  • Deep-Fried Seafood, Chicken, or Vegetables: This recipe works with all sorts of other foods. Try peeled shrimp or shucked oysters (patted dry with towels). For fish, cut 1- to 2-inch chunks of thick white fish fillets. Boneless chicken (cut into strips or chunks) or whole tenders will taste better than any fast food you’ve ever tried. And assorted raw vegetables—like carrot sticks, broccoli florets, onion rings, or sweet potato slices—are also great in this recipe. The cooking time for all will vary a little, but the visual cues remain the same.

  • I like to buy whole cleaned squid and cut it myself: Separate the tentacles with a sharp knife and remove any tough cartilage on them; slice the tubular bodies crosswise into rings about ⅓ inch thick.
  • The carbonation of sparkling water or beer makes the batter fluffy, while the egg adds the richness of a classic American seafood coating. For a more delicate tempura-style batter, use just flour and ice water and skip the egg.

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