Fiery calamari with lime and coriander aioli

Calamari ready to plate up

Calamari ready to plate up


It’s probably as a result of my late summer holiday, but seeing shelves stacked with mince pies at this time of year doesn’t feel quite right. Therefore, as my last goodbye to summer, and with October being National Seafood Month, I thought I’d share a simple and more-ish seafood dish.  The chicken nuggets of the sea: a good old frittura of calamari.

I may have dressed them up slightly in this recipe, but calamari don’t need much embellishment to make them sing. In fact, my favourite memories of eating calamari are having them as a takeaway out of a foil tray. Nothing fancy. The key is load them up with lemon juice and a sprinkle of salt. Given the time of year, however, for this recipe I’ve added a fiery coating that will warm your cockles with the cold weather setting in, as well as a zesty aioli that will have you dunking until you’ve exhausted the UK’s squid supply.

So, get yourself down to the fishmongers, load up on squid and get carving up some calamari. This recipe is super easy and you’ll be eating in less than 30 minutes.


Aioli dip


A couple of notes:

Oil – I used corn oil as it has a high smoke point and a neutral flavour. A firm favourite is also peanut oil for similar reasons. Check the smoke point of the oil you use and heat to within that temperature. For more info have a read of this guide.

Flour mix – Feel free to play around with the flour mix. I use a mix of plain and self raising flour as the raising agent gives the rings more of a crispy finish. I’ve used pink peppercorns, but chilli flakes, or other aromatic peppers would also do the trick. There’s no need for coating in egg – they taste lighter and generally better without.

p.s. this post is in no way related to me having just bought myself a deep fat fryer…



Serves 4. Prep time 25 mins; cook time 5 mins.


For the calamari:
500g of cleaned calamari
2 tbsp pink peppercorns
1 tsp cayenne pepper
pinch of salt
rind of 1 lime
1 cup of self raising flour
1 cup plain flour
corn oil to fill deep fat frier or deep pan

For the aioli:
2 egg yolks at room temperature
juice of 2 limes
salt and pepper to taste
300ml of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
handful of coriander, roughly chopped


Start by making the aioli.

Grate the rind of one lime and set aside. In a blender place the yolks, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pulse for 10 seconds.

With the blender on its slowest setting, add the olive oil in a thin steady stream. When the mixture becomes firm, stop pouring the oil. With the blender still on, add the garlic and coriander and mix for 10 seconds. Tip the aioli into a bowl. Cover and set aside.

Now heat the oil to 170C in a deep fat frier or deep frying pan.

Toast the peppercorns in a pan for a couple of minutes, then toss into a mortar along with the lime rind, cayenne pepper and a pinch of salt. Grind to a rough powder then tip into a bowl with both flours and mix.

Cut the squid into even calamari rings and toss into the flour ensuring the calamari are well coated.

Gently lower the calamari into the hot oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, then drain and transfer onto paper towels to soak up the excess oil.

Plate up with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, a generous squeeze of fresh lime and a few good dollops of aioli. And you’re done.


Buon appetito and thanks for reading!




What food do you make that calls for a frier? Have you ever made calamari? Egg or no egg? Let me know what you think

3 Comment

  1. Do you want the whole list of what I make that is deep fried, or just the top ten? I LOVE deep fried foods and get quite frustrated when people say it’s so unhealthy! I’m sorry, home-fried, vs. McDonald’s fried are not even in the same category! I haven’t made calamari in a while, and yours makes me want to go buy some to fry up right now, even though it’s after 10pm!

    FYI: No one really knows this, but I wanted to let you know that pink peppercorns are related to cashews, therefore anyone who has a tree nut allergy will could very likely have an anaphylactic reaction (as my daughter did-we learned the hard way) from ingesting pink peppercorns!

    1. cristiano says: Reply

      It really is super easy, so you could almost do it at 10pm if you had a fishmonger open round the corner :) the less you cover their flavour the better. Completely agree around healthiness Christina. Certainly healthier than shop bought “oven chips” type alternatives which are soaked in fat! Great post by the way – I didn’t know that is for sure. p.s. I don’t think i’ve ever seen as many comments on a blog post as you have on the allergen post. Definitely struck a cord there! Ciao

    2. cristiano says: Reply

      p.s. glad your daughter is ok!

Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>