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What Is Calamari? Facts and cooking tips.

Are you wondering: “What is calamari?” In this article, we have all the answers about its taste, origin, nutrition, and cooking tips.

Calamari is a seafood delight cherished by many and it has been a food source for ages.

Most people present calamari as deep-fried rings or grilled tentacles of the seafood. This article will discuss what calamari is and how versatile it is in cooking. We’ll also tell you what it tastes like and provide its nutritional benefits.

Fried calamari on top of parchment paper with marinara sauce in the bowl.

What Is Calamari?

In the truest sense of the word, calamari is a fancier name for squid.

The name comes from the Italian term “calamaro,” which translates to “squid” in English.

It is a cephalopod mollusk related to octopuses and cuttlefish.

These sea creatures have elongated bodies and multiple pairs of arms and tentacles. Much like an octopus, a squid has an extraordinary ability to change skin colors and patterns.

In the culinary world, calamari can mean different things. Some restaurants use the term interchangeably with squid for a fancier take.

Many people, though, define calamari as the squid’s breaded and fried body and tentacles.

For centuries, it has been an integral part of human diets, tracing back to ancient times. Its popularity extends across diverse cuisines worldwide.

In fact, calamari is common in Mediterranean, Asian, and Latin American dishes.

Even squid ink is a popular coloring agent in various recipes.

Its unmatched taste and texture make it a cherished favorite among seafood enthusiasts.

Whether as an appetizer or main course, calamari remains a valued seafood choice. Its distinctive attributes and limitless potential in culinary creations make it so.

What Does Calamari Taste Like?

Calamari boasts a distinctive flavor profile.

It is mildly sweet and subtly briny.

Once cooked properly, its meat develops a delicate texture that melts in your mouth.

Like most foods, its flavor can vary slightly depending on how you cook and season it.

In general, it presents a clean and refreshing seafood taste. It does not overpower the palate.

That said, it is a perfect protein base for many flavor combinations.

How To Cook Calamari

This seafood is flexible enough that you can cook it using different methods.

Here are some popular techniques you may use in cooking calamari:


A classic method to cook calamari is deep frying. Before frying, people typically coat the squid with batter or breading. The result? A balance of tenderness in the meat and crunch in the coating.


Grilling it imparts a smoky essence to the seafood. It has a subtly charred exterior that blends well with the squid’s sweetness.

For the best results, first marinate the tentacles or the whole squid in a blend of herbs, spices, and olive oil. Grill them over high heat just until you get that slight char.


Sauteeing involves cooking quickly in a hot pan with oil or butter. This method works for stir-fries and pasta dishes. Sauteed squid retains its tenderness while providing a slightly caramelized taste.

Cooked calamari rings on the white plate.

Dishes You Can Make With Calamari

Calamari’s culinary versatility lends itself to an extensive array of delightful dishes.

These amazing calamari recipes offer a diverse range of tastes and textures. For this reason, you can be sure there’s a dish to suit every culinary preference.

Here are some popular dishes you can try:

1. Classic Deep Fried Calamari

Indulge yourself in the classic appetizer: deep-fried calamari rings. These crispy rings are best with marinara sauce or aioli for dipping.

They offer seafood lovers a perfect blend of mild flavor and satisfying texture.

2. Squid Salad

A calamari salad is a simple dish that you can eat as a light dinner or an appetizer. It combines blanched squid rings, red bell peppers, celery, olives, and onions.

It’s a quick recipe you can whip up in minutes, but it never disappoints.

3. Calamari Pasta

Toss sautéed squid with al dente pasta, garlic, and olive oil. Add some cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs for simple yet flavorful seafood pasta. You may even include anchovies for an even tastier meal.

4. Squid Tacos

For a twist on the classic tacos, use crispy fried squid as a filling. Enhance the calamari tacos experience with fresh slaw and avocado slices.

Finally, a drizzle of tangy sauce creates an irresistible blend of textures and a hint of spice.

5. Calamari Skewers

Marinate them and thread them onto skewers, along with bell peppers and onions.

Grill these skewers for a visually appealing dish bursting with tantalizing flavors. Serve as an appetizer or a main course; the choice is yours!

6. Squid Stew

You can also use this ingredient in making a hearty stew. Make a stew with squid, tomatoes, onions, carrots, and potatoes. Simmer the squid until it becomes perfectly tender, and you’re all set.

7. Calamari Pizza

Did you know that this seafood is also an excellent pizza topping? Sautee squid rings first, then add them to your round-up of toppings.

It tastes great with pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, olives, onions, and herbs. That said, it will blend right in and give you a delectable take on the classic Italian dish.

8. Squid Ceviche

Calamari ceviche is a unique dish where people use citrus juice to marinate the squid. The acid in the juice reacts with the proteins in the squid and gives it an opaque appearance.

It is a raw dish that is just as good as a cooked one. This recipe needs 20 minutes of prep time, which is perfect for beginners.

9. Calamari Risotto

Try a different take on the classic risotto using some tender calamari slices. It adds a delightful contrast as the flavors meld in this creamy rice recipe.

This ingredient transforms the dish into a rich and comforting seafood experience.

Calamari Nutrition

Calamari is not only a delicious seafood option. It is also a source of various essential nutrients. It is low in fat and calories but contains protein, vitamins, and minerals.

You’ll get selenium, zinc, and phosphorus from eating squid meat. This seafood is also a particularly rich source of vitamin B12.

Indeed, adding it to your diet brings plenty of nutritional benefits.

How To Store Calamari

Properly storing calamari is crucial to preserve its freshness and prevent spoilage.

Here are essential tips to keep in mind:

When dealing with fresh calamari, refrigeration is your best bet. To protect it from exposure to air, place it in an airtight container. You may also opt to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap.

For optimal quality, consume fresh squid within 1-2 days of purchase. If you intend to keep it for a longer period, place the raw squid in the freezer.

Frozen calamari will stay good for around nine months.

If you find yourself with leftover cooked squid, allow it to cool first before storing it. Transfer it to an airtight container, then refrigerate immediately.

Consume refrigerated cooked calamari within three days. This way, you can be sure they’re still enjoyable and safe.

What Parts Of Squid Is Calamari?

Most people call the whole squid calamari. Some people, though, refer to calamari as the body of the squid, which they commonly cut into rings or strips. However, calamari can also refer to the squid’s tentacles depending on the preparation.

Is Calamari A Squid Or Octopus?

Calamari is squid. Both squid and octopus belong to the cephalopod family and share certain similarities. Still, they are different because they possess distinct physical characteristics and flavors.

What Is The Difference Between Calamari And Squid?

Calamari and squid are the same, so they do not have any difference. It’s just that in the culinary world, calamari typically refers to the dishes prepared from squid. On the other hand, “squid” is the general term people use to identify the sea creature itself.


What is calamari? The short answer is that calamari is the plural of the Italian word for squid – calamaro. Calamari and squid are the same seafood.

It has a mild flavor and tender texture that many people love. This seafood is a versatile ingredient in many dishes. You may use them in salads, pasta, or pizza recipes. It is a nutritious choice, too.

Squid is low in fat and offers ample protein, essential vitamins, and minerals. If you have not tried it yet, it’s high time you do.

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!
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