Chefs' Recipes

Sean Moran's calamari fried in its ink with chilli aïoli

Fried in its own ink, the calamari takes on a deep-purple hue and a surprising, almost-sweet flavour.

By Sean Moran
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 35 mins cooking plus cooling
  • Serves 6
  • Print
"The idea of marinating calamari in its ink for frying dawned on me when I was once cleaning squid and accidentally pierced the ink sac, and ended up with a staining pool on my chopping board that needed mopping up," says Sean Moran of Sean's in Bondi, Sydney. "Apart from the dramatic effect of the dark ink on the flesh, it also adds a lovely, almost sweet flavour."


  • 1.5 kg whole calamari
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for deep-frying
  • 150 gm (1 cup) plain flour (see note)
  • 1 cup (loosely packed) flat-leaf parsley
  • Lime wedges, to serve
Chilli aïoli
  • 8 long red chillies, halved and seeds removed
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 250 ml (1 cup) mild olive oil or canola oil
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  • 1
    For chilli aïoli, combine chillies, garlic and oil in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat until deep golden (12-16 minutes). Transfer chilli and garlic to a mortar with a slotted spoon to cool, and leave oil in pan to cool completely (1-1½ hours). Add 1 tsp salt flakes to mortar with chilli and garlic and pound to a coarse paste with a pestle. Transfer to a bowl and stir in egg yolks and lemon juice. Gradually incorporate cooled oil, stirring to emulsify.
  • 2
    Pull tentacles and innards from body of calamari (reserve tentacles). Carefully remove ink sac from innards (discard innards) and reserve. Clean and halve calamari, remove and discard wings, and peel away thin skin or rub it off with paper towels, then cut hoods into 8cm x 2cm strips. If tentacles are small, keep them whole, otherwise cut into a few pieces.
  • 3
    Place calamari in a bowl, place a sieve over bowl and break ink sac into sieve. Toss calamari in ink with a spoon until completely black and refrigerate until required.
  • 4
    Heat oil to 180°C in a large, deep saucepan or a deep-fryer. Toss calamari through flour, shaking off excess, and fry in batches until just cooked and very light golden-brown (1-2 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, season to taste and keep warm.
  • 5
    Fry parsley in oil until crisp (20-30 seconds; be careful, hot oil will spit), remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve calamari topped with parsley, and with chilli aïoli and lime wedges.


Substitute chickpea flour for plain flour to make this calamari gluten-free. Drink suggestion: An Australian pinot gris with depth, such as the 2016 Scorpo Pinot Gris from Mornington Peninsula. Drink suggestion by Beverley Woods.

  • undefined: Sean Moran