This simple recipe yields the crispiest squid you'll find. We like it with salt alone, maybe a little lemon.
1 1/2 pounds squid, cleaned
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
vegetable oil for frying
salt to taste
1. Slice squid bodies into 1/4-inch rings. Keep tentacles whole or cut in half lengthwise. Dry thoroughly with paper towels.
2. Combine flour with cayenne pepper in a deep bowl. Mix well, and have a strainer near the bowl.
3. Heat 3 inches of the oil in a deep, straight-sided saucepan or kettle to 375 degrees. When oil is hot, dip a few pieces of the squid in the seasoned flour, place squid in strainer, and shake off any excess flour. Drop the squid into the oil. (It is important that you do not fry too many pieces of squid at once or the oil temperature will drop.) Fry squid, turning them once, for 3 to 4 minutes, until they are deep golden brown. Remove squid and place on a tray lined with paper towels to drain. Sprinkle with salt immediately.
4. Serve squid immediately, or move cooked squid to baking sheet and keep warm in a preheated 300 degrees oven while you fry the rest.
Flash-frying squid in deep-oil is one of the best squid-cooking methods. Once upon a time, fried squid could only be found in Little Italy-style-red-sauce joints -- and they didn't spare the red sauce! Today, all kinds of chefs across the country love to present these crispy little morsels as a meal opener. And, happily, most people have discovered that the flavor and texture of the fried squid are ruined by a heavy blanket of sauce. The following simple recipe yields the crispiest squid you'll find. We like it with salt alone, maybe a little lemon. But if you crave a sauce, serve mayonnaise on the side. Serves 4 generously as a first course.