Having spent a couple years of my childhood in Southern Spain, my family and I grew a certain appreciation for mariscos (Spanish for seafood) of all kinds, especially deep-fried. I remember taking drives from Rota (where we lived) to Cadiz, a fishing port along the coast, for a plateful of fried chipirones - Spain's version of calamari. Chipirones are actually small baby squid. They're fried whole, so every piece has a set of tentacles, making it extra crispy and 10x better than any calamari you could get in the US. I hate calamari served in the US has too much batter or made from the huge calamari steaks. There's nothing worse than chewy calamari. For years I've been trying to figure out how to make calamari as crispy is it was when I had it in Spain and today I think I finally figured it out. Never having had a deep fryer, I always gauged oil being at 375 degrees, the ideal temperature for deep frying anything, by how loud the explosions of drops of water were in the skillet. Besides being totally hazardous, that really doesn't tell you anything. The proper way to measure temperature is with a candy thermometer. Don't underestimate how long it takes to heat up oil, it took me much longer than I would have expected, probably at least 7-10 minutes, using my larger-than-average New York stove to get to 375 degrees. So anyway, it got to 375 so I dropped in a couple pieces. Moments later, the temperature dropped about 10-20 degrees, so I had to up the flame a little to help keep the temp constant. Here's my final product:
For crispy calamari in New York, try Pam Real Thai in Hell's Kitchen. It's cheap and comes with a good dipping sauce. You'll have to judge the rest of the food for yourself.
Pam Real Thai Food
404 W 49th St
Btwn 9th & 10th Ave