November 16, 2021

The History of Fried Calamari

Fried calamari is a classic seafood side that so many people have enjoyed in restaurants around the world. For this reason, everyone tries to put their own touch on this seminal dish. Fried squid may not sound like something many people would like, but it has a unique taste. It makes sense, considering it’s not only fried seafood but as a cephalopod. That there really is nothing like it.

And of course, Cork Bar & Restaurant has its own spin on fried calamari. The recipe we serve on our starter menu begins with frying it and serving it with sautéed Prosciutto, and some lemon aioli. It creates a mesh of flavor that you won’t taste anywhere else.

Where is Fried Calamari From?

While squid has been popular around the world for centuries, from the coast of Japan then across Asia and Europe, only one country can claim to be the first. It makes sense that the dish’s namesake, Italy, would be where it originated — calamari is Italian for squid.

From Italy, the recipe spread across the Mediterranean Sea through the many countries that traded with Italy. But surprisingly, this simple idea of frying squid wasn’t popularized outside of places in Italy until 1975. There were nearly two hundred years of American history without fried calamari. Before 1975, it’s hard to determine when exactly the idea came about, but it’s widely believed to be around that time.

How Was Fried Calamari First Made?

Our popular cooking processes have changed over time with technology, but the process for cooking fried calamari hasn’t. Fried calamari was and still is made by first cleaning the squid. Nobody wants or should eat a squid right out of the water. That’s not good for the taste or anyone’s health.

Then, after the squid has been properly cleaned, a skilled chef cuts into the squid for its rings, which is also called the mantle. Fried calamari only uses these rings and leaves the rest of the squid to be served in other dishes. Finally, the rings are battered and prepared to be deep-fried as we love them to be.

This process hasn’t changed much in the few decades since its origin. For fried calamari, the old adage of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ works well.

How Did Fried Calamari Become So Popular?

A dish doesn’t just become the go-to appetizer on its own. While many who visited Italy and the Mediterranean spread the word on how good it was, many point to good word of mouth in New York as the start of its rise in popularity.

In an article written by The New York Times in 1975, the famous media publication recognized how good the golden crust and aioli sauce was when brought together. From there, restaurants up and down the East Coast and then across the country and the world began to incorporate the dish into their menus over the following years.

While at first fried calamari was a seafood dish only for the most fortunate, it eventually became an affordable dish for everyone. Fried calamari competed with the popular foods of its time, including fries, ramen, and ribs. It’s what people would have called hip or trendy, but it’s clearly more than that because it’s lasted longer than any trend.

Try the Popular Appetizer in a New Way at Cork Bar & Restaurant

It wouldn’t be surprising if talking about fried calamari hasn’t made you want some, but you’ve probably had it a hundred times before. That’s the perfect reason to try and experiment with how a local restaurant puts its spin on it.

If you have a hankering for this popular appetizer, make a reservation at Cork Bar & Restaurant. Don’t forget to make a reservation for one of our igloos too! We look forward to serving you and your family.