Here’s A Classic Spanish Calamares a la Romana Recipe to Make the Perfect Fried Calamari!
Calamares a la Romana (battered, fried calamari) is a classic tapa or appetizer served all over Spain. You can find it in almost every bar and restaurant, from the bustling streets of Madrid to the sunny coast.
It’s a simple but delicious dish that consists of fresh squid rings coated in a light and airy batter and fried until golden brown and crispy.
With the right ingredients and techniques, you’ll get a perfectly crispy and fluffy outside with tender calamari rings on the inside.
Enjoy them hot and fresh with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice and a dipping sauce like aioli or mayonnaise.
In Madrid, “Bocadillo de calamares” (fried calamari sandwich) is a famous local delicacy and a must-try when you’re in the city.
To make calamares a la romana, here are the ingredients that you will need. It’s not too many – and the recipe is actually quite easy!
- Fresh calamari rings – The main ingredient. Make sure they are fresh.
- Flour – Regular, white all-purpose flour works well. To make the batter.
- Sparkling water – Adds lightness and airiness to the batter. Make sure it’s cold.
- Eggs – Helps bind the flour and water in the batter.
- Salt – Enhances the overall flavor of the fried calamari.
- Baking powder – To help the batter become light and fluffy.
- Oil – For frying; either olive oil or a neutral-tasting seed oil.
- Lemon – For serving.
- Mayonnaise or Aioli sauce – Optional; for dipping.
Recipe Tips and Substitutions
Before you make this Spanish calamares recipe, read through these recipe tips and substitutions so that you get the best calamari when you’re all done:
- Calamari: Choose fresh calamari/squid for the best results. The variety is not that important, but freshness is key. You can clean them at home or ask your fishmonger to do it. If that’s an option, ask to have them cut into rings (just over 1/3 inch thick). You can also use the legs for equally good results.
- Oil: You can use either olive oil or any other neutral-tasting seed oil for deep frying.
- Sparkling water: Sparkling water creates a mild flavor that brings out the flavor of the calamari, but beer or sparkling wine can also be used. Either way, make sure it’s cold.
- Batter: It shouldn’t be super thick or super runny so that the calamari rings get evenly coated. Mix well so there are no flour lumps. Refrigerate it for a few minutes while you clean the calamari and/or heat the oil to keep it cold.
- Frying: The oil must be super hot for perfect results. To test the temperature without a thermometer, dip a wooden spoon or chopstick into the oil. Once lots of bubbles form around it, the oil is ready for frying. Frying at the wrong temperature can result in either soggy or burnt calamari. Fry in batches and don’t overcook. Calamares a la Romana are not suitable for air frying.
- Serving: Serve the dish immediately after cooking to preserve the crispy batter.
How to Make Calamari a la Romana – Step by Step Instructions
In this section, we’ll show you exactly how to make this fried calamari recipe.
We’ve included all the recipe process photos so that you can visually follow along and see what each step looks like as you make it at home.
The recipe card with measurements and instructions can be found at the bottom of the post!
Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk well.
Next, add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix well.
Now add the sparkling water and mix again.
Place the bowl in the fridge while you clean the calamari rings and/or heat the oil.
Add the oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat.
When the oil starts to bubble, dip each calamari ring into the batter and immediately fry in the oil until cooked and golden brown on both sides.
Depending on the amount of oil you are using, you may need to flip the calamari rings halfway through.
Add only a few battered rings at a time to avoid overcrowding the frying pan. Work in batches.
Place the fried calamari on a plate with lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil while you fry the rest.
Serve the Calamares a la Romana hot right after being made. Otherwise, the fried batter will lose its crispness. You can drizzle them with some lemon juice and serve them as is or with some mayonnaise or allioli sauce.
These fried calamari definitely taste best when they are hot and fresh. However, if you do have leftovers, you can store them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a day. Keep in mind that the batter may get soggy in the fridge.
You can reheat the fried squid in the air fryer for 3 minutes at 395 degrees Fahrenheit to bring back some of the crispiness. Of course, you can also reheat them in the oven at about 375 degrees Fahrenheit for a few minutes until heated through.
Here’s one answer to a frequently asked question about calamari!
To make fried calamari, make the batter with egg, flour, and other ingredients like sparkling water. Dip the fresh calamari rings in the batter, then fry them in oil in a large pan on the stove until once golden brown on both sides. Remove the calamari and place on a paper towel-lined plate, then serve with lemon wedges and a dipping sauce like aioli or cocktail sauce.
If you liked this recipe for Spanish fried squid, here are some more Spanish recipes that make the perfect tapas or appetizers!
- Empanada Gallega
- Pan Con Tomate (Spanish Tomato Bread)
- Vegetable Paella (Paella de Verduras)
- Albóndigas en Salsa (Spanish Meatballs)
Fried Calamari (Spanish Calamares a la romana)
- 1 pound fresh calamari rings
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sparkling water, cold
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- olive oil, for frying
- 1 lemon, for serving
- mayonnaise or aioli sauce, for serving (optional)
Make The Batter
- In a bowl, crack the eggs and whisk them well.2 eggs
- Add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix well.1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- Add the sparkling water and mix again. Set aside in the fridge while you clean the calamari rings and/or heat the oil.3/4 cup sparkling water
Batter & Fry
- Add the oil to the pan and heat over medium-high heat.olive oil
- When the oil starts to bubble, dip each calamari ring into the batter and immediately fry in the oil until cooked and golden brown on both sides, flipping halfway if needed (depending on how much oil you use). Add only a few battered rings at a time to avoid overcrowding the frying pan. Work in batches.1 pound fresh calamari rings
- Place the fried calamari on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil while you fry the rest.
- Serve with a few lemon wedges on the side and optional sauces.1 lemon, mayonnaise or aioli sauce
- Use very fresh calamari rings for the best results.
- You can use either olive oil or any other neutral-tasting seed oil for frying.
- Using sparkling water creates a mild taste, but beer or sparkling wine can also be used. In any case, make sure it’s cold.
- The batter shouldn’t be super thick nor super runny so that the calamari rings get evenly coated. Mix well so there are no flour lumps.
- To test the temperature of the oil without a thermometer, dip a wooden spoon or chopstick in the oil. Once lots of bubbles form around it, the oil is ready for frying.
- Fry in batches and don’t overcook.
- Serve the dish immediately after cooking to preserve the crispy batter.
This nutritional information has been estimated by an online nutrition calculator. It should only be seen as a rough calculation and not a replacement for professional dietary advice.