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Your Air Fryer Is Perfect For Quick And Easy Calamari

Fried calamari and ranch
Fried calamari and ranch - gowithstock/Shutterstock

Light, refreshing, and nutritious to boot, you can never go wrong digging into a bounty of seafood. From luxurious lobster rolls to simple seared scallops and everything in between, there's one seafood item that all saltwater savants can enjoy: Fried calamari. With its firm yet succulent texture and semi-sweet flavor accented by oceanic whispers all culminating in a fusion of crunchy, herb-infused goodness, this classic dish is a seafood delicacy. Delicious as it is, perfecting a batch can feel like a job reserved for kitchen experts and Michelin-star chefs. However, with the help of your trusty air fryer, you can make a beginner-friendly, no-nonsense batch of fried calamari faster than you can say squid.

Air fryers circulate hot air around the food, ensuring that the calamari cooks evenly on all sides for a perfectly crunchy texture that's consistent across each piece. Compared to deep frying, which can leave grease stains on countertops, air fryers are designed to contain any splattering or mess within the appliance, facilitating a swift cleanup experience. Plus, air frying requires less oil than deep frying, which makes it a great alternative for calamari-craving foodies who want to lower their chances of starting a grease fire. But what makes an air fryer the optimal choice for quick and easy calamari over a conventional oven? Air fryers work twice as fast as conventional ovens, making them the best calamari frying option for busy home cooks who need a deep-fried alternative.

Read more: The Best Kitchen Gadgets You Can Buy

Tips For Air Frying Calamari

Person using air fryer
Person using air fryer - Marcio Binow Da Silva/Getty Images

The biggest selling point for air-fried calamari is its ease of preparation. However, there are still a few tips worth keeping in mind to achieve the perfect batch.

For starters, determine the type of calamari you want to purchase for your recipe. Buying whole squid is a great option, but it's not exactly the most effortless, as you'll have to wash and cut the cephalopod with precision. For a hassle-free calamari cooking experience that only requires thawing, frozen calamari rounds are a great choice.

For the coating, an ultra-wet batter isn't a good option for the air fryer as it can drip through the gaps in the basket before it develops a crunchy jacket of goodness. However, a combination of flour, eggs, and panko breadcrumbs makes for a mess-free coating that adheres to the calamari. Don't forget spices and herbs -- unlock more flavor by seasoning the calamari directly or adding them to the breadcrumbs. Pro tip: spray cooking oil onto the breaded calamari just before air-frying to promote browning.

When it comes to time and temperature, four minutes on each side at around 400 degrees Fahrenheit should do the trick. If you're not sure they're ready for serving, give them a quick eye test -- if they're golden brown and delicately crisp, it's time to feast.

Jazzing Up And Pairing Air-Fried Calamari

Fried calamari poboy
Fried calamari poboy - Lauripatterson/Getty Images

What good is air-fried calamari if it's served without accompaniments? If you're not big on designing meals, there are some classic low-effort pairings and easy ways to spice up your fried calamari spread. For something traditional, serve the calamari with marinara sauce and a lemon wedge garnish to give the squid a zesty, robust twist that's familiar, fresh, and timeless. Bonus for points for dusting the marinara sauce with flash-fried herbs for a hint of aromatic earthiness.

Another option is to serve the calamari as an appetizer before a main course. For a classic surf and turf pairing that's equal parts hearty and uplifting, follow up your calamari starter with a juicy cut of steak. For something lighter, use the calamari as a topping for a Caesar salad, where its oceanic qualities and crunchy char will complement the creamy richness of the salad's dressing.

When it comes to seasonings, don't be shy. Garlic powder and onion powder will offer the squid a satisfying allium flair, paprika provides a subtle smokiness and a hint of mild heat, while a classic Cajun spice blend will give the calamari a downhome Southern feel. Herbs are always a plus. Introduce dill for something grassy and grounded or enjoy something light and pleasantly spicy with basil. Next time you're craving fried calamari, don't trick yourself into thinking it's complicated -- your air fryer has you covered.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.