Salt and Pepper Calamari with Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 40 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Cook: 10 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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1 pound fresh cleaned squid, or thawed if frozen

2 cups buttermilk 

1 teaspoon hot sauce 

2 cups all-purpose flour 

2 tablespoons cornstarch 

1 1/4 teaspoons salt 

1 1/2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper 

6 cups vegetable oil, for frying 

Essence, for seasoning, recipe follows

Sweet and Sour Sauce, recipe follows

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

2 1/2 tablespoons paprika

2 tablespoons salt 

2 tablespoons garlic powder 

1 tablespoon black pepper 

1 tablespoon onion powder 

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper 

1 tablespoon dried oregano 

1 tablespoon dried thyme

Sweet and Sour Sauce:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/3 cup chopped onion 

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger 

1/4 cup finely diced pineapple 

1/3 cup rice vinegar 

1/4 cup ketchup

2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (recommended: Sriracha Chili Garlic Sauce) 

1/4 cup sugar 

1/4 cup chicken broth 

2 teaspoons cornstarch 


  1. Cut the body sacs of the squid into 1/2-inch rings and trim the tentacles as necessary.   In a mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk with the hot sauce. Place the squid pieces in the buttermilk mixture and marinate for 30 minutes. In a separate bowl or baking dish, combine the flour with the cornstarch, salt, and pepper.   Heat the oil in a medium, heavy stockpot to 375 degrees F.   Drain the buttermilk from the squid and discard buttermilk. Dredge the squid pieces in the flour mixture and shake off any excess flour. Carefully slip the squid into the hot oil, and cook in batches, turning occasionally, just until the squid float to the surface of the oil and stop crackling, 1 to 2 minutes. (The squid should just be turning a pale golden color when ready.) Using a slotted spoon, remove the calamari from the oil and drain on paper towels. Season, to taste, with Essence and additional salt, if needed. Serve hot with Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):

  1. Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
  2. Recipe from "New New Orleans Cooking", by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.

Sweet and Sour Sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the ginger and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Stir in the pineapple, vinegar, ketchup, chili garlic sauce, and the sugar. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth and cornstarch until smooth. Add to the sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Cook for 1 minute, remove from the heat, and cool slightly.
  2. Pour the sauce into a small food processor or blender and pulse several times. Serve warm.