The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat calamari. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What calamari etiquette is

Calamari etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat calamari. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve calamari to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat calamari at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat calamari

What you should know about calamari

Calamari is a seafood delicacy. It is a type of cephalopod mollusk found in most parts of the world’s oceans.

Calamari has a cylindrical-shaped body with a pointed head and eight arms or tentacles. It typically has a white, translucent flesh with a slightly sweet, delicate flavor. The texture is firm yet tender with a slightly chewy bite. Calamari can come in different colors, including white, pink, and purplish-brown, depending on the species.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat calamari

1) How to store calamari

The ideal temperature to store calamari is between 32°F and 39°F (0°C and 4°C). If you are storing fresh calamari, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or put it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge. Fresh calamari can last up to 2 days in the fridge. You can also store calamari in the freezer by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap or putting it in an airtight container. Frozen calamari can last up to 3 months in the freezer.

Sliced or cooked calamari should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

2) How to clean calamari

To clean the calamari, first, remove the head and internal organs from the body. Then, pull the skin off the body and remove the hard beak from the center of the tentacles. Rinse the calamari under cold running water to remove any remaining debris. There are no significant risks involved in cleaning calamari, and you can use a sharp knife or kitchen shears to remove any excess skin or connective tissue.

You can tell when calamari has turned bad by its strong fishy odor, slimy texture, or discolored appearance.

3) How to prepare & cook calamari

Calamari can be eaten raw or cooked. To prepare calamari for cooking, remove the head and internal organs from the body, and then clean it thoroughly. You can use various utensils and appliances to prepare and cook calamari, including a sharp knife, kitchen shears, grill, oven, or frying pan. Some popular ways to cook calamari include grilling, frying, baking, or sautéing.

Some popular dishes that feature calamari include fried calamari, calamari pasta, stuffed calamari, and calamari salad.

Calamari can be a great addition to salads and sandwiches. Calamari is not suitable for vegan diets, but it can be enjoyed as part of a keto or paleo diet.

4) How to serve & present calamari

Calamari is appropriate for a variety of occasions, including formal and informal meals, brunch, or snack time. It can be served as a side dish, appetizer, or main course.

To serve calamari, it is best to present it on a plate or bowl that showcases its appearance. A neutral-colored plate or a wooden board works well. You can use tongs or a fork to serve calamari. It is best served warm or at room temperature.

You can accompany calamari with various seasonings, including lemon, garlic, parsley, and chili flakes. It also goes well with various accompaniments, such as roasted vegetables, crispy potatoes, or a light salad.

5) Food and wine to pair calamari with

Calamari pairs well with a variety of vegetables and fruits, including roasted bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, and arugula. It also goes well with citrus fruits, such as lemon or lime. However, it may not pair well with sweet fruits, such as strawberries or mangoes.

Calamari can go well with cheese and dairy, such as feta cheese or a creamy sauce made with milk or cream. However, it’s important to keep in mind that cheese and dairy can easily overpower the delicate flavor of the calamari, so it is best to use them sparingly. Cheese and dairy pairings to avoid include strong cheeses, such as blue cheese, and heavy cream sauces.

Calamari can pair with meat, such as chorizo or bacon, or fish, such as shrimp or scallops. The texture of the meat or fish should complement the texture of the calamari, and the flavors should not overpower it.

The best wine pairings for calamari are usually white wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or Chardonnay. Rosé and sparkling wines can also pair well with calamari, especially if it is served as an appetizer or with a light sauce. Red wine pairings to avoid include heavy, tannic wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon. When it comes to beer and spirits, light beers and crisp, citrusy cocktails can also pair well with calamari.

6) How to eat calamari

The most polite way to eat calamari is to use a fork and knife. It is not considered polite to eat it with your fingers. When eating calamari, you can eat the whole piece, but the beak (a hard, transparent part of the squid’s mouth) and the ink sac should be discarded.

Calamari etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common calamari etiquette mistakes:

  • 8/10. Not properly cleaning or preparing calamari.
  • 6/10. Overcooking calamari.
  • 5/10. Serving calamari with overpowering sauces or accompaniments.

Additional information for properly serving calamari

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

Calamari is relatively low in calories, containing around 100 calories per 3-ounce serving. A single calamari tube contains approximately 14-16 calories, depending on its size.

How to buy the best calamari

A crucial factor in calamari etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Calamari is available year-round, but the best season to buy it is from spring to fall.

Choose the best

Calamari can be found in various forms in commerce, including fresh, frozen, canned, and dried. Fresh and frozen calamari are the most common forms found in grocery stores and seafood markets.

The most popular varieties of calamari in commerce include the Loligo and the Illex species. The most prized varieties are typically smaller and more tender, with a sweeter flavor.

When buying calamari, look for firm, unblemished flesh that is free of any fishy odor. The color should be a creamy white or pinkish hue. Avoid buying calamari that has a slimy or mushy texture or a strong, unpleasant odor.

Alternatives to calamari

Some common alternatives to calamari include octopus, squid, and cuttlefish, which have similar textures and flavors.