Calamari, otherwise known as squid, is a delicious seafood delicacy that can be prepared in many different ways. However, if you're looking for a healthier alternative to frying calamari, then air frying is a method worth considering. In this article, we'll explore why air frying is the best way to cook calamari, what ingredients you'll need, and all the steps you'll need to take to make crispy and delicious calamari in an air fryer. Additionally, we'll give you tips and tricks to make it extra crunchy and flavourful.
Why air frying is the best way to cook calamari?
Air frying has swiftly become the preferred cooking method for those that love fried food but want to avoid the excess grease and calories. This method of cooking uses high heat and a fan to circulate hot air around your food, giving it that fried texture without the need for deep-frying.
Calamari is often deep-fried to achieve that crispy texture we love. However, this cooking method can result in a lot of unnecessary oil and excess calories. With air frying, you can still achieve that same crispiness without the unhealthy drawbacks.
Another benefit of air frying calamari is that it is a much cleaner and safer cooking method. Deep-frying can be messy and dangerous, with hot oil splattering and the risk of burns. Air frying eliminates these risks, making it a safer and more convenient option.
Additionally, air frying allows you to experiment with different flavors and seasonings. You can easily add herbs, spices, and other ingredients to your calamari before air frying, giving it a unique and delicious taste. This versatility makes air frying a great option for those who love to experiment with their cooking.
What are the ingredients required to cook calamari in air fryer?
To air fry calamari, you'll need a few key ingredients:
- 1lb of calamari, cleaned and cut into rings or strips
- ½ cup of all-purpose flour (or cornmeal for a gluten-free option)
- ½ cup of breadcrumbs (panko or Italian-style)
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
Once you have all the ingredients ready, the first step is to preheat your air fryer to 400°F. While the air fryer is heating up, you can start preparing the calamari. In a shallow dish, whisk together the egg and olive oil. In another shallow dish, mix together the flour, breadcrumbs, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.
Next, dip each piece of calamari into the egg mixture, making sure it's fully coated. Then, dredge it in the flour mixture, pressing the coating onto the calamari to ensure it sticks. Place the coated calamari in a single layer in the air fryer basket, making sure they are not touching each other. Cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping the calamari halfway through, until they are golden brown and crispy.
Step-by-step guide on how to cook calamari in air fryer
Now that we have all the ingredients, let's get started with the step-by-step process:
- Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C).
- Mix together the all-purpose flour (or cornmeal), breadcrumbs, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper in a shallow dish.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg.
- Add the olive oil to the egg and whisk until combined.
- Dip the calamari in the egg mixture, shaking off any excess.
- Toss the calamari in the breadcrumb mixture, making sure every piece is coated well.
- Arrange the calamari in a single layer in your air fryer basket.
- Cook the calamari for 8-10 minutes, flipping them over halfway through until they're golden brown and crispy.
- Once they're done, remove the calamari from the air fryer and let them cool for a minute or two before serving.
Calamari is a versatile seafood that can be enjoyed in many ways. If you want to add some extra flavor to your air fryer calamari, try adding some lemon zest to the breadcrumb mixture. The citrusy flavor pairs perfectly with the crispy texture of the calamari. You can also serve the calamari with a side of marinara sauce or aioli for dipping. Enjoy!
Tips and tricks to make your calamari crispy and delicious in an air fryer
If you're looking for some tips to make your air-fried calamari even more delicious, then here are a couple to keep in mind:
- If you want your calamari to be extra crispy, try spraying some cooking spray on the breadcrumbs before cooking.
- You can experiment with different seasoning blends to give your calamari some unique flavours. Some popular options include cajun seasoning, lemon pepper, or even adding parmesan cheese to the breadcrumb mixture.
- Don't overcrowd the air fryer basket - this can cause the calamari to steam instead of getting crispy.
Another tip to make your air-fried calamari crispy is to preheat the air fryer before cooking. This will ensure that the calamari cooks evenly and gets crispy on all sides.
For a healthier option, you can use almond flour or coconut flour instead of breadcrumbs. This will give your calamari a nutty flavour and make it gluten-free.
Different seasoning ideas for your air-fried calamari
If you're looking for some inspiration to switch up your seasoning, here are a couple of ideas:
- Cajun: Combine 1 teaspoon of paprika, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of onion powder, ½ teaspoon of thyme, ½ teaspoon of oregano, ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and a pinch of salt.
- Lemon Pepper: Combine 1 teaspoon of lemon zest, ½ teaspoon of black pepper, and a pinch of salt.
- Parmesan: Add ¼-1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese to the breadcrumb mixture.
But why stop there? Here are two more seasoning ideas to try:
- Garlic and Herb: Combine 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of dried basil, ½ teaspoon of dried oregano, ½ teaspoon of dried parsley, and a pinch of salt.
- Spicy Sriracha: Mix 1 tablespoon of Sriracha sauce with ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of onion powder, and a pinch of salt.
Experiment with different seasonings to find your favorite flavor combination!
How long should you cook calamari in an air fryer?
The cooking time for calamari in an air fryer will depend on your air fryer's cooking power. However, in general, 8-10 minutes at 375°F (190°C) is a good starting point. Make sure to flip the calamari over halfway through cooking to ensure even crispiness on both sides.
It's important to note that the size of the calamari rings or pieces will also affect the cooking time. Larger pieces may require a few extra minutes, while smaller pieces may cook faster. Additionally, you can add some seasoning or a light coating of breadcrumbs to the calamari before air frying for added flavor and texture. Experiment with different cooking times and seasonings to find your perfect calamari in the air fryer recipe!
Serving suggestions for your freshly cooked air-fried calamari
Calamari is a versatile dish that can be served as an appetizer or a main course. Here are some serving suggestions:
- Serve with lemon wedges and marinara sauce for dipping.
- Toss calamari in a salad for an extra crunch.
- Serve as a main course with a side of roasted vegetables.
Frequently asked questions about cooking calamari in an air fryer
Here are some common questions people might have about air frying calamari:
- Is air frying healthier than deep-frying? Yes, air frying uses much less oil and is therefore a healthier option than deep-frying.
- Can I use frozen calamari to air fry? Yes, you can use frozen calamari, but make sure to thaw it before you start cooking.
- Can I use different types of breading for my calamari? Absolutely, you can use a variety of breadcrumbs or even crushed crackers for a different texture.
Health benefits of cooking calamari in an air fryer compared to deep-frying
Cooking calamari in an air fryer has several health benefits compared to deep-frying. Here are a few key advantages:
- Less oil: With air frying, you need little to no oil to achieve that crispy texture, which means fewer calories and less saturated fat.
- Decreased cardiovascular risk: Fried foods have been linked to higher rates of heart disease, so air frying is a healthier alternative.
- Better digestion: Deep-fried foods can be heavy on the stomach, while air frying calamari results in a lighter dish that is easier to digest.
In conclusion, air frying calamari is an excellent way to enjoy this seafood delicacy without the unhealthy drawbacks of deep-frying. With the right ingredients, seasonings and cooking time, you can achieve that perfect crispy texture that we all love. Try it out for yourself, and enjoy your freshly cooked air-fried calamari with your favourite dipping sauce or as part of a more substantial meal.