Black Tempura Calamari | Wine Enthusiast
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Black Tempura Calamari

Courtesy Carlos Abad Landeras, chef, Tirso Tapas Restaurante, Palma de Mallorca

Often the anchor for a hearty seafood stew, squid gets a tempura twist in this recipe from Carlos Abad Landeras, chef at Tirso Tapas Restaurante in Palma de Mallorca. Chili and paprika—both staples of the Mallorcan kitchen—accentuate the flavors. Adding finely grated fresh garlic to the mayonnaise emulates the Catalan allioli (aioli) relished by locals.


2⅕ pounds calamari (squid)
3 tablespoons quality mayonnaise or allioli (make by adding fresh-grated garlic to taste), plus another
½ cup plain mayonnaise (for garnish)
3 cups tempura flour
¾ cup lager beer
⅜ cup sparkling water
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 sachet squid ink (if not using ink from fresh squid, available online or at fine fishmongers)
8 teaspoons good-quality sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chili-based sauce, like sriracha
Dash Sherry vinegar, optional
Lemon or lime juice
Lemon wedge or julienned red pepper, for garnish


If using fresh squid, clean and cut into julienne strips, about a quarter-inch wide and 2–3 inches long. If using frozen squid, thaw overnight in refrigerator, then cut into julienne strips as above. If using rings, cut each ring open to make strips.

In large bowl, mix 3 tablespoons mayonnaise/allioli, flour, beer, sparkling water, baking powder and squid ink with the squid julienne. Set aside.

For mayonnaise garnish, mix paprika and chili sauce into remaining plain mayo, adjusting for spiciness. If desired, add a dash of Sherry vinegar for authentic flavor, making sure mixture doesn’t become runny. Store in squeezable bottle and set aside.

Using neutral-flavored oil (corn, peanut, canola or safflower), fry spoonfuls of squid mixture in deep fryer or saucepan at 355˚F for 1–2 minutes, depending on squid’s thickness. If squid sticks together, separate gently with a utensil, creating individual “fingers.”

Remove from oil, place on absorbent paper and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt, to taste. Drizzle lemon or lime juice and mayonnaise/allioli, to taste.

Line ramekin or tall cup with paper. Stand squid fingers on end.

Dab top of each squid finger with spiced mayon-naise/aioli from squeeze bottle. Garnish with a lemon wedge or julienned red pepper. Serves 6 as an appetizer; 4 as a main dish.

Pair It

Vinya Son Caules Blanc, a young, fresh blend of Prensal Blanc, Macabeo and Moscatel, has enough oak structure (three months in French barrels) to stand up to the spicy batter. Aromatic on the nose, dry and refreshing on the palate, “it’s a worthy partner” to this dish, says Reg Ward, a Mallorca-based importer who worked with Landeras on the recipe.

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