Crunchy Fried Calamari with Tahini Remoulade

Saha, by Greg and Lufy Malouf.
Saha, by Greg and Lufy Malouf.

It was a lucky find. I was cleaning out the freezer in anticipation of the bounty that late Spring and Summer provides, when I found a small packet of frozen calamari. This buried treasure was still within the realms of short term memory, unlike many of the other odd frozen parcels, which became treats for ‘el chooks’  (the chickens).

As the rest of the ingredients were on hand, it was time to attempt Greg Malouf’s Crunchy Fried Calamari and Tahini Remoulade from the cookbook Saha.


Although the total recipe appears to have a long list of ingredients, it is really quite simple. The recipe is divided into steps: make the spice mix, then the remoulade, then the crunchy topping and finally the quick fry of the calamari. The Golden Spice Mix comes from the first chapter of Malouf’ s Saha with recipes for cumin salt, fragrant salt, paprika oil, taklia – a garlicky spicy topping- baharat, and a spicy marinade.

Golden Spice Mix.

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 tablespoon chilli

Mix together and store in a jar for up to 6 months.

Tahini Remoulade.

  • 150 g plain yoghurt
  • 3 tablespoons tahini, well stirred
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed with 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat leafed parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped gherkins
  • 1 teaspoon chopped capers

Combine the yoghurt, tahini, garlic and lemon juice in a bowl and whisk together thoroughly. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.

Crunchy Coating

  • 3 tablespoons cornflour ( cornstarch)
  • 3 tablespoons fine polenta
  • 3 tablespoons fine semolina
  • 1 tablespoon of golden spice mix ( see above)

The Calamari, Cooking and Assembling.

  • 8 small calamari, quartered
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable oil for shallow frying
  • lemon wedges
  • fresh garden leaves to serve

Prepare the crunchy coating by sieving all the ingredients together. Season the calamari pieces then dunk them into the crunchy coating mixture. Put the calamari pieces into the sieve to shake off any extra coating. Heat the oil in a large frying pan until nearly smoking. Add the calamari pieces in batches, shaking the pan to coat them with the oil and to colour them evenly. They should take less than a minute to cook. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper. Serve them piping hot with lemon wedges and the Tahini Remoulade.

My Notes

*I used larger calamari and cut them into small  pieces. This would work well with any shape you decide to cut. I also used the tentacles.

* The coating would be handy for many other small fry, although a sticking agent, such as a beaten egg or some milk, would help the coating adhere to flathead fillets. Calamari has enough of its own ‘glue’.

* The tahini remoulade is a winner. This sauce is far more appealing than the common place tartar based on mayonnaise. I will be using this in future. I used more capers than suggested in the recipe.

Thanks Leah, of the Cookbook Guru, for encouraging me and others to cook from a nominated cookbook, taking us away from our comfort zone!




34 thoughts on “Crunchy Fried Calamari with Tahini Remoulade”

  1. Yum! The very best calamari I ever ate was on the Princes Islands in the Bosphorus. It has a crunchy spicy coating and there was a yoghurt tahini dipping sauce, just like this. I’ve never thought to recreate it, guess I was reluctant to spoil the memory, but you’ve got my salivary glands working overtime. Tonight’s dinner plans now look unappetising!


  2. Oh wow! Would that crunchy coating be good for a spicy fish n’ chips! I think you are right about the egg wash to help it adhere to fish other than calamari. I usually hate tartar sauce when served in little tubs alongside fish, but this tahini remoulade sounds much more inviting. Yum! Will need to page through Saha again!


  3. Yum. I love the spices and the remoulade. And a much better treatment than the ubiquitous S & P calamari (but which if done well I’m a. fan!). Gorgeous picks and colors 🙂


    1. Thanks Ella, I am a big fan of Salt and Pepper Cala too. In fact, I am very fond of calamari and its cheaper cousin squid done any way so long as it’s when super fresh, of fresh frozen. The remoulade is also a handy thing.


  4. Looks and sounds delicious, Francesca. Is the mix spicy? I love calamari and enjoy ‘jigging for squid.’ (Meaning, the squid grab onto a baitless string of hooks as you dip it up and down in the water off the dock at dusk). Then I would rinse them off well, roll them in Krusteaz mix and fry them up into a heaping pile!!


    1. Krusteaz? is that a premixed crusty coating? The mix is moderately spicy. The turmeric helps give the coating a yellow tinge. The usual and common way in Australia is Salt and Pepper Squid, an Asian thing that all Aussies have adopted.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. As I usually try to avoid mayo this remoulade dressing will be tried soonest : of yogurt and tahini I always have plenty 🙂 ! Sounds really moreish . . . .Thanks !


    1. Hello, I tried the yoghurt with the ‘found’ easiyou and it worked well enough, using the hot water with cold milk/yoghurt mixed. I still prepoiled the milk. Thanks for allerting me to the correct method.
      This is good to know as the gadget is easier to clean. The whey separates more in this vessel than the thermos.


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