If you've ever seen calamari on the menu of your local seafood and wondered, “what is calamari?” we're here with the answers! Calamari is the Italian word for “squid,” and in countries like the US and UK, it usually refers to squid that has been cut into rings, breaded, and deep-fried. However, squid is popular all over the world. It's popular across Asia where it's enjoyed with noodles or rice, and added to stir-fries, in Greece, as well as Spain, and Italy, where it's added to risotto and pasta dishes. Calamari is super easy to cook, and depending on how it's prepared, squid can be an incredibly healthy protein, thanks to the fact it's rich in vitamin B12, iron, potassium, and phosphorus. Ready to learn more about this delicious seafood? Here's everything you need to know about calamari.

What is Calamari?

As we touched on a moment ago, calamari is squid. It's a relative of the octopus, but the two members of the mollusk family are distinct from one another. Octopus meat also has a mild flavor but is more tender and succulent compared to squid meat. Squid tends to take on the flavors of the seasonings and sauces it's prepared in. Many different places use squid as food including China, Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asian countries, as well as all around the Mediterranean. Both creatures expel ink when threatened, and squid ink is used as a food coloring and flavoring, especially in Italy and Spain.

What Does Calamari Taste Like?

Texture-wise, calamari is mostly firm but slightly chewy. Plain calamari has a mild flavor; most of its flavor will depend on the cooking method and seasonings, not unlike chicken.

How to Clean Calamari?

You can purchase cleaned squid from your fishmonger or clean the calamari at home yourself. Cleaning the squid yourself is cheaper. To clean squid, pull the head from the body. This action should also remove the insides of the squid. Throw the head and innards away, unless you wish to save the ink sac for your cooking. The ink sac is a dark vein-like tube in the innards. You can poke it with a knife and pour the contents into a bowl, then use it however you'd like. The tentacles and body are the only parts of the squid you can eat. Slice the squid below the eyes to separate the tentacles from the body. Cut the beak from the tentacles, then remove the cartilage and skin. Wash the squid, dry it, then slice it into rings.

How to Cook Calamari

There are loads of different ways to prepare calamari. No matter what method you choose to cook it, make sure you don't overcook the calamari as this can give it an undesirable rubbery texture. One of the most popular ways to cook calamari is to batter and deep fry it. It's also fantastic when sauteed. You can even bake calamari or cook it in your air fryer! Any of these methods is wonderful when you're dealing with calamari rings. If you have a whole squid, we recommend marinating and grilling it. It's delicious whether served in a spicy chili sauce, with a soy sauce marinade or simply served with a few slices of lemon and some tartar sauce.

Where Can I Buy Calamari?

Both fresh and frozen squid can be purchased from your local fishmonger or supermarket. If you're struggling to find it, you can order frozen calamari from an online specialty shop.

How to Store Calamari

Keep fresh raw calamari wrapped and in the fridge for up to 2 days. Frozen calamari will last up to 9 months. Cooked calamari will stay fresh for up to 3 days in the fridge.