Squid steak might or might not sound like the perfect dish for you, but if someone mentions calamari steak, you might be grabbing your gear to go to the restaurant. They are, of course, nearly the same thing. Or, to put it more correctly, calamari is a particular kind of squid prepared in a special way. 

Therefore, calamari is squid, but not all squids are calamari. These recipes, however, will focus on calamari, that specific kind of squid that has you ready in less than a minute and headed out to eat without a second of hesitation.

Calamari Steak Recipe

  • 4 prepared calamari steaks
  • Canola oil
  • 2 Eggs
  • Flour
  • Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs
  • Pepper
  • Salt

Place three, shallow bowls, large enough to easily accommodate the calamari steaks, on your work surface. Put the flour in one, Italian seasoned bread crumbs in another, and beat two eggs in the last one. Start a heavy pan with the canola oil heating on a cooktop burner or surface. Sprinkle the first calamari steak with salt and pepper.

Keep it light.

Coat it with the egg batter, roll it in the flour, and then the bread crumbs. Place the coated calamari steak in the pan, let it brown on one side, then on the other while prepping the next steak. The calamari need to cook fast, otherwise they will become tough, so you have a bit of a race between allowing the pan to become too hot, cooking the calamari all the way through, but not overcooking it, while preparing the next steak so it can go in as soon as the previous one came out.

Contrasting the Cost of Calamari and Regular Squid

This is a quick, easy recipe, but not a cheap one. Depending on your location, Calamari can run from $15.00 per pound to $60.00 per pound and up. By comparison, farm-raised squid from California can run as little as $5.00 per pound. Landlocked locations can anticipate paying more for both calamari and squid than locations that are near a sea coast.

What is Calamari Steak

To understand what is a calamari steak, first, visualize the calamari. It is a small squid that is roughly torpedo shaped, with big eyes and tentacles at one end, and a sort of javelin shape at the other end. The steaks are the result of cutting the fleshy torpedo part into slices, creating a shape that resembles an extra plump onion ring.


To prepare calamari steaks from a fresh calamari squid, first, remove the head and the innards. This is done by twisting the head, then pulling gently. The head, insides, and tentacles come away on one side, and the body is left on the other. The skin is edible, but many cooks prefer to remove it, peeling it away delicately.

The next step is to carefully wash the body and to make sure that all of the inside parts came away cleanly. Finally, the body part is sliced, creating rings that can be marinated, dipped in egg and floured, or prepared in several other ways. However, calamari has a delicate flavor. Too much spice or breading can destroy or overwhelm it, so use those spices sparingly.

Goodies from the Tentacle End

Don’t discard the other end of the calamari right away. First of all, the tentacles are also edible and can be cooked similarly to the steaks.

Second, hidden in the slimy guts of the creature is a rare delicacy: the ink. You will be able to locate it by looking for a vein that looks like it is filled with black ink. Gently prick it and drain it into a dish that contains a little water or wine. Chefs use it for coloring or flavor in other dishes. But, just a word of warning, it stains like crazy! Protect your clothing, surfaces and even your cutting board. A little bit of the ink goes a long way.

Calamari Trivia

Here’s a little calamari word trivia for you. The word calamari was borrowed from the Italian into English in the late 1500s. It is the plural of calamaro, which is taken from the Latin calamarium, which means pen case.

The Latin word calamarium comes from the Greek word, kalamos, or pen. This all refers to the shape of the calamari, and to the ink that can be gotten from the little creature.

Differences Between Squid and Calamari

Although they are both members of the cephalopod family, there are more differences between regular squid and calamari than size and price. The squid that usually makes it to our dinner tables is usually nototodarus Gouldi, or Gould’s squid, or sometimes Teuthoidea.

Calamari, on the other hand, are sepioteuthis, which are smaller, have an arrow-shaped ending to the hood, and have sepia colored ink. They are also more tender than ordinary squid, with a slightly more delicate flavor.

Can You Substitute Regular Squid for Calamari?

To some degree, yes. But that is more or less like saying you can substitute chicken for pheasant. You will have an edible dish, but you will not have precisely the same dish. Still, if you are searching for a delicacy to serve, and you are on a limited budget, then squid can function in the same general manner as calamari – or chicken for pheasant.

Tenderizing Squid

One of the big differences between Calamari and squid is that squid is tougher. One method is to marinate the squid with kiwi fruit. The acid in the fruit helps break down the tough fibers.

Another method is to freeze it overnight before using it, or you can soak the squid in milk for half an hour before cooking. You can also purchase young, small squid. Even though they are not calamari, they are more tender than the adults.

More Calamari Steak Recipes

Grilled Calamari Steaks

The key to grilling calamari is to have the grill hot so that it cooks quickly, and to marinate in something that will help break down the fibers beforehand.

  • 1.5 pounds cleaned calamari, or three pounds fresh
  • 4 tablespoons Olive oil
  • 1 Lemon/lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cloves Garlic

Start the grill so that it can preheat.

Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl. These will include the 2 cloves garlic, crushed, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Instead of cutting the calamari into rings, split the hood so that it becomes a flat, triangular piece. Salt and pepper, then place in marinade for a minute or two – longer if you are tenderizing squid.

Carefully lay the calamari onto the grill – a fine mesh grill is best for this – and cook it for about a minute and a half on one, and then another minute and a half on the other. The idea is to cook the pieces completely through but to do it quickly so that it doesn’t become tough.

Drizzle with a combination of lemon and olive oil, and dress with a sprig of parsley.

Fried Calamari Steaks

No time to fire up the grill? No problem. Calamari steaks can just as easily be cooked in a frying pan.

  • Canola or other delicately flavored oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Lemon
  • 1 ½ pound prepared calamari steaks

Mince the garlic and sauté it in a heavy pan. Salt and pepper the calamari steaks and brush them with lemon juice. Cook quickly in the hot pan for about three minutes, flipping them over when the first side is brown. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve hot.

Calamari Steak Sandwich

  • Fried or grilled calamari steak
  • Your choice two slices or one bun bread
  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice

Prepare the calamari steak using either the fried or grilled calamari steak recipe. Drizzle with lemon and a little olive oil. Lightly toast a light, sliced bread. This could be simple white or wheat bread, or it could be a thin sliced specialty bread. It could even be an artisan bun. Spread it with butter. Place the calamari steak between the slices of bread and let the butter melt into the squid. Serve on a lettuce leaf, and top with a sprig of parsley.

If desired, spice it up with marinara sauce, hot sauce or sprinkle with an Italian seasoning mix.

Cooking Calamari Steaks with Butter

Looking for a calamari recipe without all the breading? Try cooking your calamari with butter.

  • 2 calamari steaks, or one steak per dinner guest
  • 2 pats butter (keep added pats on hand in case the pan gets dry)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 lemon per every 2 calamari steaks

Prepare the calamari, pat it dry, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. If you are cooking for someone who is on a restricted salt diet, you can minimize the salt and substitute in a little chili powder or other favorite spice.

Mince the cloves of garlic. Melt two pats of butter in a heavy frying pan and add the minced garlic. Heat until the garlic is translucent, but not browned. Add the Calamari, and cook about three minutes, approximately 90 seconds per side. Serve with a lemon quarter for added drizzling.

Calamari Steak Dore

The secret behind Calamari Dore is in the breading.

  • 2 calamari steaks, or one steak per dinner guest
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Olive oil
  • Pat of butter
  • Fresh parsley, minced

Grate the lemon to create lemon zest, then cut it in half and squeeze the juice. Beat the two eggs together with the water and set aside. Mix the lemon zest, the parsley, and the flour.

Heat a heavy frying pan and melt the butter and olive oil together. Lightly score the calamari steaks to keep them from curling. Dip them in the flour mixture, then in the egg, then back in the flour. Place the steak in the hot pan for about three minutes, cooking it for about 90 seconds on each side, or until the batter is golden brown. Serve hot, with a sprig of parsley and a lemon quarter for garnish.

Sautéed Calamari Steak

To sauté is to fry something very quickly in a little fat. If you’ve been paying attention to the recipes so far, you will notice that unless it is grilled, calamari is sautéed. Why? Because if it is allowed to cook very long, calamari becomes tough and rubbery. It is the same principle as pan searing a steak at high heat rather than cooking it for a long, slow time.

To carry out the definitions a little farther, a sauté is also a ballet maneuver which involves jumping up with both feet, then landing back in the same position. You can also serve a sauté which is a dish where all the ingredients are sautéed.

Sautéed calamari can be a simple dish or a complex one, depending on the ingredients you have on hand. But it will always include the following  ingredients:

  • Calamari or squid steaks lightly scored to prevent curling
  • Butter, olive or canola oil, or a combination

Optional ingredients:

  • Minced basil
  • Minced parsley
  • Minced garlic
  • Lemon zest
  • Capers

To sauté your calamari, moisten them with a little butter and lemon juice. Meanwhile, heat up a heavy frying pan. Heavy, because it distributes the heat better and you will have an even temperature all across the pan.

Sear the calamari on both sides, then add the lemon juice, minced herbs, and capers. Cook together for one minute and serve the calamari steaks with the pan drippings. Then set back and receive the accolades from your guests.

The primary thing to keep in mind when cooking calamari steak is that it is a delicate protein.

It can easily be overcooked, which will turn it into calamari flavored chewing gum – not any cook’s primary goal. You can practice your calamari techniques on the less expensive squid, even though it will not be exactly the same. However, you could say that keeping squid from being tough is an even greater challenge and one that would help you to be ready for calamari.


Peter's path through the culinary world has taken a number of unexpected turns. After starting out as a waiter at the age of 16, he was inspired to go to culinary school and learn the tricks of the trade. As he delved deeper, however, his career took a sudden turn when a family friend needed someone to help manage his business. Peter now scratches his culinary itch on the internet by blogging, sharing recipes, and socializing with food enthusiasts worldwide.

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