Why Buttermilk Is Crucial For Perfectly Textured Calamari

Calamari is one of the best appetizers out there. If you want to impress your dinner party guests, it wouldn't be a bad idea to perfect a delicious calamari recipe — such as Tasting Table's crispy and crunchy fried calamari, which was developed by Cecilia Ryu.

One of the key elements to perfecting this recipe is making sure that the breading is just right before the squid is fried. And before you can coat the squid in the flour mixture, there's one step you don't want to skip: Soaking the squid in buttermilk. Ryu says, "[The buttermilk] plays an important role ... [it] is used to tenderize the squid and also helps the breading stay in place." The recipe calls for you to keep the squid soaking in the buttermilk for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

In addition, it is important to do away with the buttermilk when it's time: After 30 minutes in the fridge, you'll need to dab away any lingering moisture from the buttermilk before coating it to avoid the breading being too thick after frying.

What to substitute for buttermilk if needed

The buttermilk plays a really important role in the process of making calamari, so we would recommend buying a good buttermilk. However, if you find yourself in a pinch and can't use buttermilk for any reason, there are a few methods you can use to whip up a substitute.

Hopefully, if this happens, you at least have regular milk — either semi-skimmed or whole (skim is too thin in consistency) — because it can come in handy for a buttermilk substitute. You can mix milk with vinegar (including apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar), lemon juice, or plain yogurt to concoct a replacement for buttermilk. For the first two options, mix 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice with about 1 cup of milk to make 1 cup of buttermilk. For the yogurt option, mix 6 ounces of plain yogurt with a quarter cup of milk (you can also use water for this option, in place of milk).