What is Calamari?

Calamari is a delicacy to many, and is a popular selection in the seafood scene of restaurants. Despite its popularity, many people still do not know exactly what calamari is. To put it simply, calamari is squid served as food. However, there is much more than the definition to this delicious food. Here is a list of answers to some popular questions about what is calamari.
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  • 1) What is calamari made from?

  • Calamari is squid and it is typically fried with batter. The batter can be made from any recipe of the chef’s choice, but typically it is a thick egg batter. The part of the squid that calamari comes from is the mantle and the tentacles. The mantle is the main portion of the body that encases its internals. The mantle is the most sought after portion of the squid for making calamari; however, the tentacles are still good table fare.
  • 2) How is calamari cooked?

  • Calamari can be cooked many different ways.  There is some trickiness with cooking calamari, though. Calamari that is cooked too long can easily turn into a rubbery texture and become less pleasant to eat. It is because of this trait that the calamari must be tenderized and cooked at the minimal time to be at its optimal serving state. In order to be cooked thoroughly at minimum timing, the calamari will typically be cut into thin strips or rings so that it is able to be cooked in a short amount of time. Most often the strips and rings are then fried. The cooking options do not necessarily end there; baking is suitable for calamari as well. The mantle can be left whole and may be stuffed and then baked.
  • 3) What does Calamari mean?

  • Calamari means squid. The word calamari itself comes from the Italian word “calamaro” which is from Medieval Latin “calamarium” which means “ink pot”. Squid are known for their ink secretion abilities. Calamari is the culinary term for squid because of the origin meaning. It was chosen due to the palatable sound of the word calamari as opposed to squid. This Mediterranean delicacy has definitely fared better while being addressed by the term of calamari.
  • 4) Are any allergies associated with calamari?

  • Allergies to calamari are possible. These allergies are also common with Mollusks such as cuttlefish, octopus, snails, slugs, and scallops or Crustaceans such as shrimp, lobster or crabs. In the case of calamari, cooking does not seem to have any effect against destroying the allergen. The allergen that will have an effect will most likely be the allergen known as tropomyosin which is typically found in cytoskeletons.
  • 5) What does calamari taste like?

  • Calamari can taste rather mild, but will have a unique texture to it. Depending on how it is prepared, it can be quite chewy at times. This is why it is typically battered to give a more satisfying crunch. Some state that it tastes rather fishy. For instance, when the calamari are tenderized and soaked in milk or egg, they may differ greatly in taste. As far as the rubbery or gummy consistency, it depends on the cooking time. Any slight overcooking will turn the squid into a chewier texture.
  • 6) What is the difference between calamari and octopus?

  • If it is the difference of species, the calamari would be the one with eight arms and two tentacles whereas an octopus has eight arms. As far are their table fare differences, that is an entirely different story. Octopus has a more sensitive type of meat in comparison to squid with regards to overcooking. They may both be similar in taste, proteins, and fats but their texture is still different. Overall, the main differences found from the culinary aspect of these two delicacies are that their cost and availability vary.
  • 7) What is calamari fritti?

  • Calamari fritti is an Italian meal that is considered to be a delicacy and is served with lemons and spaghetti sauce. This seafood dish features fried calamari as the main ingredient. The “fritti” is derived from the Italian word for fried.  The calamari will typically be cut into rings and dipped into an egg based batter. This deep fried meal will surely have its variations, as this may be prepared with any choice of add-ons for seasoning.
  • 8) What is calamari good for?

  • Calamari is best known as a delicacy for seafood enthusiasts. However, it may really prove its worth as a protein powerhouse. A typical ounce of plain calamari will offer about 4.4 grams of protein which is about 9% of the daily value. If that is not enough to put this squid on the top of the list, then maybe the 26 calories associated with that same ounce of calamari will. Calamari provides essential vitamins and minerals such as B12, calcium, vitamin C, zinc, and phosphorus. Unlike some of the seafood out there, calamari are known to have a rather low mercury content.  
  • 9) What is calamari octopus?

  • Calamari octopus is something that can be seen when both octopus and calamari are cooked together. You have heard it right, the two foods that we have talked about being so hard to cook properly, in one dish.
  • 10) What is Calamarine?

  • Calamarine is a supplement made from the oils found in food grade calamari and is not from any sort of fish. This supplement is high in DHA which contributes to the maintenance of normal vision, brain function, and blood triglycerides. Calamarine oil comes from the trimmings of squid and is further refined afterwards through filtration processes that will also include detoxification and concentration. These supplements are made to boost Omega-3 intake.
  • 11) What is calamari arrabbiata?

  • Calamari arrabbiata is something that will include the calamari as its main portion and then be smothered in arrabbiata sauce. The arrabbiata sauce is made of spices, garlic, tomato, and red sauce with pickled cherry peppers.  The sauce lends a great flavor profile to the rather bland calamari.  
  • 12) What food group does calamari belong to?

  • Calamari belongs to the food group of meat and meat alternatives according to Health Canada. Calamari provides essential nutrients, especially proteins, while offering a low amount of calories per ounce. Calamari has an ability to aide those who are striving towards building their body and maintaining their health. With that being said, this profiling comes from pure calamari and not what it is cooked with. If eating the typical fried preparation of calamari, the nutritional value will differ greatly.
  • 13) How to properly clean calamari?

  • To clean calamari the proper way, follow a few simple steps. Slice the squid in half in order to separate the tentacles from the eyes. Afterwards, grab the head and the body separately, pulling them apart. This step will be to ensure that the innards and ink sac are removed and will be discarded. After the separation, the skin of the mantle can be peeled towards the point of the squid and then discarded. Finally, the mantle and the tentacles will need to be rinsed with clean water before they are ready for cooking. From this point, the choice of cooking method will need to be decided upon. There are many options, but several are popular and include: cutting into thin strips, thin rings, or leaving the mantle whole for stuffing and baking. In any case, the decision will lead to the final step where the cutting occurs. Finally, the calamari will be ready to cook and serve!
  • 14) What does calamari look like?

  • For those that know what a squid looks like, this will be an easy question to answer – a squid! Calamari will feature a large tubular body with two eyes which are on opposite sides from each other with eight arms and two tentacles. Once the calamari have been cleaned and prepared for a meal, one might be able to tell that it is indeed calamari from a few simple tricks. Seeing thin strips or rings that are battered are most likely a give-away that the food is calamari. The other tell-tale sign that you may be eating calamari is if there is a large mantle that is breaded and/or stuffed. The mantle will resemble that tubular form with a point at one end. If the two flaps on each side of the point remain, it is a sure bet that it is indeed calamari!
  • 15) Are cuttlefish the same as calamari?

  • A common mistake made by many is that cuttlefish are often considered to be the same thing as calamari. The two are indeed from the same family.  However, the two are very different as cuttlefish will feature what is known as a cuttlebone which will act as the buoyancy control whereas the squid will have a straight bone-like structure known as the pen. Both have eight arms and two tentacles with a similar outer structure. In culinary term, they are also vastly different. The flesh of a cuttlefish is more tender and thick in comparison to a squid’s flesh. However, the only notable culinary difference would be for those who plan on cleaning the two. Squid will prove to be much simpler to clean due to their lacking of a cuttlebone.  The cuttlefish yields more meat during the cleaning process.  

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