Fried Calamari with a Chipotle Kick

I know you like fried calamari. I flat out know you do. You can pretend like you don’t all you want, but I know deep inside you like it. You can even put that pained and squeamish look on your face and then try to tell me that squid is just not your “cup of tea” (so to speak). But I know you’d just be saying that just to get me all riled up.

That’s because you like fried calamari. I flat out know you do.

Armed with that knowledge I feel it’s quite alright to play against your expectations with this dish. Maybe even break a few rules. Maybe even include a spicy chipotle citrus dipping sauce with your calamari when you aren’t looking. Scandalous!

I know what you’re thinking. It’s just not done… and it’s true I’d be the first one to join the argument that says fried calamari is best hot, salty and simply adorned with lots of lemon. It’s a winning argument. There is a whole lot of truth in it. But you hear that squelch? That’s me bending the truth once again!

Because I am here to say that (sometimes), it’s quite alright to go against even the plainest of truths. That’s just what I have in mind. So get ready to have your culinary foundation rocked. Because truths, they are ‘a‑tumblin’ down.


chipotle sauceNow close your mouth and quit staring at me. My calamari is indeed served hot and simply adorned with salt and tons of lemon. Because that really is simply the best way to enjoy calamari. And though I may be bending some cherished truths… I am not committing hara-kiri!

Still, that doesn’t mean I can’t have a dipping sauce now, does it? I know you like dipping sauces. I flat out know you do. And who says that a dipping sauce can’t kick you in the teeth a little.

Well, that’s exactly what this dipping sauce does. It kicks. Because it’s got the big, smoky flavor of chipotle with just a hint of citrus sweet.

So come on lighten up. If I can do it anyone can…

Fried Calamari with Chipotle Citrus Sauce serves 4 CLICK here for a printable recipe


  • 2 clv garlic peeled and chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper with some of its canned adobo sauce (to taste)
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 T red onion, minced
  • 1/2 t mustard seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1/2 c vegetable oil
  • 1 lb fresh calamari tubes and tentacles, cleaned, rinsed and sliced
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 t parsley leaves, finely minced
  • 1 t coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 t cayenne, or more to taste
  • oil for frying
  • lemon wedges

calamriAdd the garlic, chipotle, citrus juices, red onion, mustard seeds to a blender or mini-food processor. With the machine running gradually drizzle in the oil until the desired creamy texture is achieved. You may not need all the oil. Gradually whisk in oil until blended. Set aside until ready to serve.

Soak the calamari in the buttermilk for at least one hour. Combine the flour with the parsley, salt, pepper and cayenne in a medium bowl. Remove the calamari from the buttermilk and shake off a bit of the excess. Dredge the calamari in the flour mixture, keeping all the pieces separate. Shake off the excess flour.

Pour oil to a depth of about 2 inches in a deep pan. Heat to 365. Fry calamari, in batches, for about 1 minute or until done, turning after 30 seconds. Make sure to not crowd the pan. Drain on paper towels, season with salt and a big spritz of lemon. Serve with additional fresh squeezed lemon, and some of the Chipotle sauce on the side.


Greg Henry