Cooking On A Budget: Fried Calamari with Firecracker Dipping Sauce

Monday, June 8, 2015

Fried Calamari with Firecracker Dipping Sauce


Light, crispy calamari rings served with delicious Firecracker Dipping Sauce ~ the ultimate restaurant quality appetizer you make in your own home.

Remember the Firecracker Chicken Wings I did just a short time ago? Well that sauce in it's raw stage makes an incredible dipping sauce. In fact at what has become our favorite restaurant the Firecracker Sauce is what they served with fried calamari. It's what I ordered for an appetizer and I offered it up to everyone at the table. We all fell in love with this appetizer and honestly I could not wait to replicate it here at home. I even tried obtaining the recipe from the restaurant but they never returned my phone call so I was left to my own devices and I think I came darn close if not hitting the nail on the head.

Whenever I am in a restaurant where I know the quality of food is good and since I love fried foods I tend to gravitate to calamari (squid). My first experience eating this wonderful food from the sea was when I was in my late teens at a restaurant that was "the" place to go for a great dinner and I was with my mother and stepfather who dined there as much as possible along with my sister and her husband. When the platter arrived at the table I was a bit skeptical because the tentacles (arms) reminded me of a spider. Needless to say I fell in love with that part of the squid and the rings as well and have been prone to ordering it ever since. However, very few restaurants serve the fried tentacles which in my estimation they are cheating us out of a great part of the squid!

I have had fried calamari served with cocktail sauce and tartar sauce and even a nice thick marinara sauce. All of it is delicious but this Firecracker Sauce is something unique, out of the everyday and it is scrumptious and pairs so well with the fried calamari. Please take my word for it - it's incredible!

For this dish I am using frozen squid rings for the calamari. If you know how to use fresh squid and want to cut it up yourself by all means visit your local seafood market and obtain it from them.

Firecracker Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 3 sauce
  • 3 tbsp. sriracha
  • 1 tsp. garlic - finely minced
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger - finely minced or 1/4 tsp. dried ginger
  • juice from 1/2 of a lime
  1. In a bowl combine all the ingredients listed above. Make sure you mix well using a whisk.
  2. Makes about 7 ounces of sauce
  3. Set aside and begin the chicken preparation. 
  • 1 pound calamari
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • oil for frying
  1. Pat the calamari dry with paper towels.
  2. In a bowl combine the flour, cayenne pepper and salt and whisk to combine.
  3. Add 1/3 of the calamari to the flour and mix to coat. Add to a strainer to shake off excess flour.
  4. Fry the calamari at 360° until golden brown - takes a short amount of time about a minute. Do in 3-4 batches and keep the calamari warm on a sheet tray in a 250° oven while you finish the rest.
  5. Drain and then season with extra salt as they come out of the fryer if you want.
  6. Serve with the Firecracker Dipping Sauce and fresh lemon.
Two easy steps: make the firecracker sauce ahead then fry the calamari ~ what you end up with is a chef quality appetizer that everyone at your gathering will be wowed by.

This recipe cost me $9.96, feeds four people an appetizer for $2.49 each or dinner for two $4.98 each. How economical is that? Throw in a vegetable and a baked potato dinner isn't expensive at all! I think sauteed zucchini and perhaps some baby red potatoes done parslied style would make a great dinner.

If you love entertaining, love seafood and appetizers in general you may want to check these out:

Long Island Broiled Oysters ~ these are amazing! If you or someone you love adores oysters this is the ticket!

Clam Shell Stuffies ~ The clam shell stuffies are presented so nicely and the filling is delicious.

Cheddar Cheese Puffs ~ a very simple and very tasty little bite.

Grilled Cheesy Jalapeno Peppers ~ I have to remember to make these again soon - we loved them!
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