I'm trying to make a baby squid fregola better. It's working well apart from one thing: I'd like the baby squid to have more of a maillard reaction and perhaps be a bit crispy. What I currently do is:

  • Wash the fresh baby squid (the squid are really small, perhaps 5 or 6cm tall - much smaller than in this question)
  • Attempt to dry it in paper towel (harder than you would think)
  • Cut it into three (take off the tails, then divide the resultant "cup" into two so it doesn't retain water
  • Attempt to dry it again
  • Fry it in peanut oil in a cast iron pan - peanut oil a couple of millimetres deep - at a high heat

What happens is that water comes off the "dry" (not really) squid, and it bubbles so the squid is actually sort of boiling, sort of steaming, sort of frying. By the time the squid is done, there is still a watery residue. If I leave it on for longer, the watery residue seems to turn into a sticky mess (a bit like albumen) on the bottom of the pan, which then burns - also I'd be in danger of overcooking the squid.

It tastes great, but not quite as great as if it were "properly" fried. I could blowtorch it I guess. Any ideas?

  • I think the problem might be that in general cephalopod water content is naturally high. Not sure if it will work well with squid, but maybe double-fry it, the technique some people try for crispier potato fries. Jan 10, 2022 at 18:07
  • @DuarteFarrajotaRamos So fry it one pan, then lift it out with a slotted spoon and put it in another plan with already hot oil leaving the water content behind? That's a super interesting idea.
    – abligh
    Jan 10, 2022 at 19:15
  • I'm not sure how it goes in practice, I've never actually tried it myself, but I don't think another pan is necessary. The principle here is to let it rest between fries enough to cool down, so most water evaporates and it is a bit drier on second fry Jan 10, 2022 at 19:48
  • @DuarteFarrajotaRamos by the time it rests, it will be overcooked! It needs about 3 or 4 minutes maximum. So I can understand 2 pans, with the second being super hot, but I don't think letting it rest is going to work as it will cook while it is resting.
    – abligh
    Jan 10, 2022 at 22:21

1 Answer 1


I would suggest applying a thin coating of corn/potato starch to the squid before frying like you described. The corn/potato starch assists in browning as well as absorbing some of the moisture from the squid and frying process, giving a light and crispy texture whilst not being as heavy as normal flour, which can sometimes leave the end result feeling soggy and greasy. You can also season the starch with salt, bouillon power, garlic, etc.

If you really wanted to avoid adding starch to your squid, another solution could be investing in some pichitto sheets, a product often used by sushi chefs to remove some of the moisture in fish with high water content. You sandwich the squid between the wrap, leave it in the fridge for a while and the sheets draw out the moisture, leaving you with a drier squid to fry more easily.

Here's a video of a sushi chef explaining how to use pichitto sheets. https://youtu.be/qE1JsxgxK3Y

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