Cook ’em, grill ’em, fry ’em, throw them in a pan with some oil and spices, and you’ve got yourself an amazing dinner. For passionate seafood lovers, they are a true delicacy, for others – an ooey-gooey mystery dish that they are not really keen on. Today, we are going to do our best in explaining what is calamari, and try to convince a broader audience that they are truly missing out on a terrific seafood dish.
What Is Calamari?
A few people actually know what calamari stands for, let alone how it tastes. You’ve probably noticed that the name sounds Italian, and that’s because it is. The name was “borrowed” from the Italian word for squid and integrated into restaurant menus all across the USA.
So, calamari is basically a type of squid prepared in a number of different and tasty ways. Calamari can be found in many cuisines all around the globe, especially those that are considered Mediterranean.
What Does Calamari Look Like?
So, now that we established that calamari is actually squid, let’s talk about some physical characteristics. Squids are cephalopods – marine life animals characterized by a protruding head, tentacles, and the ability to squirt ink. Because of their similarities, squids are often confused with their closest relatives, the octopus. Other cephalopods include cuttlefish and nautilus.
Squids can vary in size substantially. They can be as small as an inch, but there have also been records of giant squid that live in the deep oceans and can grow over 43 ft in length. However, the ones that end up on your plate are usually somewhere around 10 inches. Aside from their long head, squids have 8 arms and 2 longer tentacles.
Where Does Calamari Come From?
While their ancestors used to live exclusively in shallow waters, today we can find squid in almost any marine environment. That’s why so many countries include calamari in their seafood repertoire. European Mediterranean countries like Italy, Spain, Croatia, and Greece eat calamari on a daily basis.
While the Italians love adding them to their pasta dishes, in Spain calamari is usually served in the form of fried squid rings or added to their famous rice dish, the paella. In Croatia, they serve them freshly caught and grilled, while in Greece you’ll find them as a regular ingredient in their tastiest seafood salads.
Meanwhile, across the globe in Asian countries like China, Thailand, and Japan, you’ll find calamari as a staple part of their street food culture. Here, calamari is either deep-fried or served almost raw and with a lot of spices.
What Does Calamari Taste Like?
Describing the taste of calamari is easier said than done, mostly because, no matter how you prepare it, the flavor is very unique.
When taken off the grill, calamari can have a tender, almost rubbery texture. When marinated, It’s very good at absorbing spices and aromas, making every bite an explosion of different flavors that mix together perfectly.
The deep-fried version has a crunchier exterior, while still remaining tender on the inside. Also, the overall flavor is more intense. Topped with lemon juice or dipped in marinara sauce is the way we like it, but it all boils down to personal taste.
That about covers everything there is to know about calamari. Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of what makes it such a delicious and highly sought out dish among seafood lovers. You’ll be happy to hear that our menu features 3 different calamari dishes that you can try out next time you stop by our Rakija Lounge restaurant in South Beach.