From rotiserías (take-out joints) to cafés offering classic porteño fare to pricey fine dining establishments, in many parts of Argentina a platter of crispy–sometimes not so crispy–fried squid rings served with a couple wedges of lemon is not hard to find. Every place has their own unique recipe that ranges from a simple dusting of flour and salt to bubbly batters containing milk, eggs, or beer. Often offered as an appetizer, rabas fritas can work just was well as an entrée if you want to take a break from the beefy stuff. When and how these tasty morsels appeared in fried form on plates in Argentina is anyone’s guess. I’m sure the Spanish and Italian influence had a little to do with that and if you didn’t know, there is an abundant supply of squid off of Argentina’s coast.
I love fried calamari but often they can be served up quite bland. However, a few restaurants in Argentina showed me that the overall experience can be kicked up a notch with the addition of fresh parsley and garlic (rabas a la provenzal). Here is a recipe I came up with to recreate those wonderful dishes I’ve enjoyed.
Beer-batter Fried Calamari Recipe
2 lbs. squid body meat; cleaned and sliced into 1/2 inch rings
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups beer
2 teaspoons corn starch
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic; minced
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley; finely chopped
Preheat oil in a deep fryer to 180º C (375º F)
Combine flour, corn starch, baking powder, and salt in medium or large bowl. Add beer, garlic, and parsley, and whisk well. Lay out rings on a flat surface or cookie sheet and dust all sides with extra flour. Working in batches of 5-6 rings, dip and coat each ring in batter–separately–and gently drop into deep fryer. Immediately after, use a metal fork or cooking tongs to separate pieces in order to prevent them from sticking together. Cook for 4 minutes. Drain and set aside*. Serve with lemon wedges.
*Tip: I will usually lay a strip of parchment paper on a cookie sheet in a warm oven (lowest setting with door set ajar) to keep the cooked calamari warm and crisp while frying the remaining batches.