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Thai Calamari Recipe (Pla Muk Tod)

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Thai calamari recipe is your next favorite appetizer – it’s easy to make, incredibly delicious, and fried to crispy perfection. Don’t forget to dip it in one of my many homemade sauces!

Thai calamari served in a traditional bamboo basket, garnished with fresh coriander and accompanied by sweet chili sauce and lime wedges.

Squid has always been one of my favorites. I love to treat myself with an occasional seafood snack like fried calamari, Thai grilled squid, and yum pla muk (Thai squid salad).

I think Thai sweet chili sauce is the perfect dip for this fried squid recipe.

What is Thai calamari

Thai calamari, or pla muk tod, is a crispy appetizer with tender squid coated in a light, crispy batter and then deep-fried. It’s often served with a spicy or tangy dipping sauce for added flavor.

Thai fried squid

This is the best appetizer you could serve to your guests at your next party. Just like Thai fried wonton and Thai vegetable spring rolls, you can prepare it in advance and fry it when you’re ready.

Close-up of golden Thai fried calamari.

What you’ll love most about this recipe for Thai calamari is how simple it is, allowing you to actually enjoy your own party.

Simply dip the tempura batter coated squid into hot oil and fry it to golden perfection. Serve it up with your favorite Thai dipping sauce.

Be sure to make plenty because they’ll disappear in a minute!

Ingredients

Ingredients can be sourced at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
The exact measurements are in the recipe card at the end of this post.


Ingredients for Thai calamari recipe labeled: squid, garlic, chili, white sugar, fish sauce, cornstarch, white pepper, and water.
  • Squid – You can use both baby squid or larger squid cut into rings for this crispy calamari recipe.
  • Tempura flour – Tempura flour is essential for giving the calamari a light and golden, crunchy coating. You can find this at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
  • Ice-cold water – When tempura flour is mixed with ice-cold water, it turns into a light batter for dipping the squid before deep-frying.
  • White pepper – Ground white pepper adds an earthy heat that’s different from chilies.
  • White sugar – Sweetness is essential for balancing out the spicy and salty flavors.
  • Fish sauce – A key ingredient in Thai cuisine that infuses the calamari with umami and savory notes.
  • Chilies – You can add more or less chilies to taste for spicy calamari. Use Thai Jinda chilies or bird’s eye chilies if you’d like spicy fried squid.
  • Garlic – Garlic is essential in many Thai recipes, adding aroma and a pungent note.
  • Oil – For deep-frying, I recommend using a neutral oil with high smoke point, like canola oil or vegetable oil.

How to make fried calamari

Garlic and chili crushed in stone mortar.

Step 1: Crush garlic and chili with a mortar and pestle.

Thai marinade in glass bowl.

Step 2: Transfer the crushed garlic and chili into a bowl. Add fish sauce, white pepper, and sugar to the mix. Combine these ingredients thoroughly until the sugar dissolves and the spices are well mixed.

Fresh squid marinated with Thai spices.

Step 3: Add the squid rings to the bowl containing your spice mixture. Ensure that each piece is evenly coated with the spices and seasonings.

Bowl with squid in tempura batter.

Step 4: Mix tempura flour into the marinated squid. Following this, gradually add ice-cold water, mixing continuously to form a smooth batter.

Frying calamari in a wok.

Step 5: Preheat oil in a large wok or deep-fryer to medium heat. Once hot, place the squid rings into the oil one at a time to prevent them from sticking together. Fry the squid in batches to avoid overcrowding, turning each piece occasionally, until golden brown and crisp.

Fried Thai calamari resting on a colander.

Step 6: Once they achieve a golden brown hue and a crispy texture, remove them from the oil and let excess oil drain before serving.

Kitchenware

  • Papers towels for draining excess oil
  • Mortar and pestle or food processor
  • Deep fryer or large wok
  • Spider strainer
  • Mixing bowl

Tips for deep-frying

Dry the squid well: Before you dip the squid in the batter, make sure it’s clean and totally dry. If it’s wet, the batter won’t stick properly.

Don’t overcrowd: Don’t fry all your calamari at once. Fry them in small groups so they don’t stick together. The batter needs space to get crispy.

Fresh seafood: Fresh squid tastes a lot better than frozen. Try to get it fresh if you can.

Fresh oil: Always use fresh oil for frying calamari to keep it crispy and avoid it turning soggy.

Thai fried calamari serving suggestions

Garnish with chopped green onions and coriander. Add a wedge of lime for a refreshing note. You can serve this on its own as a crispy snack and appetizer, or pair it with other Thai food for a complete meal. You can pair it with lots of things, like Thai sticky rice, jasmine rice, pad cha talay, and pad ped talay.

Golden-brown Thai-style fried calamari rings ready to be served.

For your Thai calamari sauce, you can opt for Thai sweet chili sauce, a spicy nam jim seafood, a refreshing Thai green chili sauce, tangy tamarind sauce, Thai hot sauce, or Thai spicy peanut sauce.

Storing and reheating leftovers

For the crispiest fried food, enjoy it fresh. If you have leftovers, cool them down, then store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a day. This keeps them as fresh as possible until you’re ready to eat again.

To reheat fried calamari: Use the oven and spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet or an air-fryer.

Frequently asked questions

Is this recipe gluten-free?

No, tempura flour is made of wheat flour.

What is the best oil temperature for frying squid?

The oil should be around 350°F to 375°F (175°C to 190°C). You can check this with a kitchen thermometer or drop a small piece of batter in; if it sizzles and rises to the top, the oil is ready.

What does fried calamari taste like?

Fried calamari is tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside, often seasoned with spices to enhance its flavors. The flavor of squid goes great with the crispy coating from frying.

Can you eat fried calamari when pregnant?

Enjoying fried calamari during pregnancy is generally safe when the squid is fully cooked and eaten in moderation. However, be mindful of potential high mercury levels in squid and the fact that fried foods can contain unhealthy fats.

How many calories are in fried calamari?

The calorie content in fried calamari can vary widely depending on the recipe and portion size. On average, a serving of about 3 ounces (85 grams) of fried calamari can contain between 150 and 250 calories.

Authentic Thai seafood recipes

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Thai Calamari Recipe (Pla Muk Tod)

Thai calamari served in a traditional bamboo basket, garnished with fresh coriander and accompanied by sweet chili sauce and lime wedges.
The best Thai calamari recipe for making pla muk tod at home. Easy and delicious!
Praew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Cuisine Thai
Course Appetizer, Snack
Serving Size 2 people

Ingredients

  • 7 ounces squid see notes
  • 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 chili see notes
  • 1/2 cup tempura flour see notes
  • 3.5 tablespoons water
  • oil see notes

Instructions

  • Crush garlic and chili with a mortar and pestle.
  • Transfer the crushed garlic and chili into a bowl. Add fish sauce, white pepper, and sugar to the mix. Combine these ingredients thoroughly until the sugar dissolves and the spices are well mixed.
  • Add the squid rings to the bowl containing your spice mixture. Ensure that each piece is evenly coated with the spices and seasonings.
  • Mix tempura flour into the marinated squid. Following this, gradually add ice-cold water, mixing continuously to form a smooth batter.
  • Preheat oil in a large wok or deep-fryer to medium heat. Once hot, place the squid rings into the oil one at a time to prevent them from sticking together. Fry the squid in batches to avoid overcrowding, turning each piece occasionally, until golden brown and crisp.
  • Once they achieve a golden brown hue and a crispy texture, remove them from the oil and let excess oil drain before serving.

Notes

  • Use the nutrition card in this recipe as a guideline.
  • Tempura flour - Tempura flour is essential for giving the calamari a light and golden, crunchy coating. You can find this at Asian grocery stores and Asian markets.
  • Squid - You can use both baby squid or larger squid cut into rings for this crispy calamari recipe.
  • Chilies - You can add more or less chilies to taste for spicy calamari. Use Thai Jinda chilies or bird's eye chilies.
  • Oil - For deep-frying, I recommend using a neutral oil with high smoke point, like canola oil or vegetable oil.

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Just made this Squid dish. Tasted just like I enjoyed in Phuket. I used the rings and the tentacles. Goes perfectly with a nice cold Chang beer!

5 from 3 votes (1 rating without comment)

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