These supions, as small cuttlefish are called in the South of France, are neither battered nor deep-fried, as fried calamari typically are in the United States, but instead lightly floured and pan-fried in shallow oil. It therefore becomes necessary to sweat out the water from the squid before those liquids can dilute the hot oil. This process adds to the cooking time and thus the risk of tough squid. Although extremely tender pan-fried calamari may prove an elusive goal, I discovered that cutting the squid into small pieces rather than rings produces a far less chewy outcome.
When pan frying the squid, try to resist the temptation to continually scrape up and liberate pieces that stick to the bottom of the skillet. This sticking makes possible the delectably crisp, browned edges to which the parsley and lightly browned garlic so lovingly cling. It's the sticky business that turns these supions frits into candy.
- 2 pounds clean squid
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1. Wash the squid well in cold water and rinse. Cut their bodies into small pieces 1 to 1-1/2 inches in length and 1/4 inch wide. (This is best done by cutting the squid bodies in half lengthwise and then cutting diagonal, 1/4 inch-wide slices from each half.) Cut the tentacles in half if they are too large.
2. Heat a large 12-inch skillet, preferably cast iron, over low heat. Spread the squid pieces in the pan and cook, tossing once or twice, to release the liquid from the squid, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Drain the squid, place between paper towels, and dry the squid as thoroughly as possible. Clean and wipe dry the skillet.
3. Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add the squid and toss with the dry ingredients until lightly covered with flour.
4. Pour vegetable oil into the skillet to a depth of about 1/3 inch and heat over high heat until very hot. Place the squid evenly in the skillet and fry, tossing the squid only two or three times, until they begin to brown, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Scatter the chopped garlic over the squid and fry, stirring and tossing more often, for 1 minute. Add the chopped parsley and toss with the squid until evenly distributed. Remove the squid with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and serve.