Crispy Thai Calamari Salad – Healthy? Kinda. Fresh? Definitely.

Thai Crispy Calamari Salad

A few years ago, my local favorite Thai take-out royally f’ed me. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit. Have you ever had a restaurant you used to love and then horrible customer service just made you reconsider your obsession with them? Did you feel personally offended because over the course of many, many years of patronage (meaning you felt like you single-handedly kept their sorry arses in business?), they ruin the love affair with a few bad decisions? Maybe you wouldn’t want me as your customer but I usually have a “three strikes you’re out” rule but that one bad day, the day I was a bit hungover and desperately needed the sweet and salty taste of some Thai food, my local joint let me down big time. I responded with a few mean reviews on our Brooklyn/NYC online restaurant review websites. Then I vowed I would never, ever return again… no matter how bad I wanted that delicious Penang Curry. And guess what, I did it. To this day I have never returned. When I want to stand my ground, I do. But I have finally realized that my business did not keep them open and they continue to thrive locally. Whatever…

Thai Crispy Calamari Salad
During my hiatus from the local Thai restaurant, I did learn to make some Thai-inspired dishes at home. One is this fabulous calamari salad. What I love the most about this is that it is the perfect mix of healthy and unhealthy. Yes, you have to fry some calamari, but it’s laying on a bed of napa or savoy cabbage and some other veggies. I guess you could make this with some grilled calamari if you want to really go healthy (or if you just hate to fry). It’s super easy to make and actually makes a nice meal.  I had a nice bottle of thai sweet chili sauce, but you can also make your own very easily.

Thai Crispy Calamari Salad

Crispy Thai Calamari Salad (serves 2 as a main dish)

  • 1 pound calamari, with tentacles
  • 1 1/2 cups flour mixed with pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups of shredded napa or savoy cabbage
  • a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 raw red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup of pickled shredded carrot (8 oz carrots, grated + 1 cup water + 1 cup rice or white wine vinegar + 1/4 cup sugar)
  • fresh cilantro
  • sliced scallions
  • oil for frying
  • 1 cup of Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce (or less/more to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice

What to do:

  1. Make your pickled carrots by first gently heating the vinegar, water and sugar until sugar has completely dissolved into the water/vinegar mixture.  In a bowl or mason jar, add shredded carrots and top with water/sugar/vinegar mixture.  Toss or shake and set aside.
  2. Make salad “dressing” by mixing thai sweet chili sauce with fish sauce and lime juice.  Set aside.
  3. Heat the oil until hot enough to fry.
  4. Slice calamari bodies into 1 inch rings.  Dry these and the tentacles with a towel.  Toss the calamari in the seasoned flour mixture.  Shake excess flour off the calamari and fry in the oil until brown (about 1 minute).  Remove with slotted spoon or spider and allow to drain on some paper towels.  Sprinkle with salt.
  5. Arrange your salad:  cabbage on the bottom tossed with a bit of lime juice and olive oil to moisten a bit (optional), then topped with tomatoes, onions, pickled carrots, scallions, cilantro and crunchy calamari.  Drizzle with the thai chili “sauce” and serve with some lime wedges.  Enjoy!

38 thoughts on “Crispy Thai Calamari Salad – Healthy? Kinda. Fresh? Definitely.

  1. What is it with these Thai restaurants anyway? I had a similar falling out with my favorite place a few years ago too. I miss the place, but a girl’s gotta stick with her principles.

    That salad looks absolutely fabulous! I could go for a huge plateful right now!

  2. Oh I so agree with you about restaurants! I mean, when they are great why can’t they realize that and just never change anything? This calamari salad looks fantastic! I love everything in it and about it.

  3. I really should stop reading my RSS feeds at work. This made me really hungry.

    Thanks for the inspiration, will have to try and recreate something similar soon.

    // Mike

  4. I love that Calamari salad! I’ve only had it in restaurants. I love how you balance the virtuous-ness of the veggies with the fried of the calamari.

  5. I guess the world now knows…don’t get Amy mad! Actually, your calamari salad looks better than most restaurants. Now you just have to learn to make penang curry and you’re set!

  6. This looks awesome. I am all about the self-sufficiency, you should know how to make the dishes that you crave in case you ever find yourself somewhere without a (friendly) thai restaurant…I bet this would be good with the green papaya salad I just made, too…mmmm….

  7. I had a similar falling-out with an Indian place I used to frequent. I just believe that regulars should ALWAYS get preferential treatment, no matter what, and most good business owners would agree. Good on you for taking matters into your own hands.

  8. I have been lucky and all local restaurants that I support have amazing customer service skills and have yet to let me down in a major way. Heck most of them always take care of the regulars.

    The first pic is amazing. I am wondering how this would go with chicken because I have a pain in the butt time trying to find calamari.

  9. This looks really homey and hits the spot. I fried bacalao balls the other day and encursted them with blue cornmeal. The cornmeal gives an extra crunch! I also bought some frozen calamari (soooo not fresh) so that when my bf makes fries i can cook calamari. This is totally doable.

    TO only know hot to make thai sweet chili sauce…

  10. This looks just delicious and a perfect meal really, but then I am rather biased as I love calamari – particulary when it’s fried like this.
    brill first photo.
    ps we have just boycotted a place recently after horrible service and REALLY upsettingly bad food from somewhere we really liked and went often enough to feel like regulars – it’s sad because I liked it, but could never go back after such a disappointing night.

  11. I would rather have mediocre food than lousy service.
    Sometimes if the service is so nice, you can say, ok, they are having a bad day in the kitchen.
    I have a one strike and you are out rule! You are nicer than I am!

  12. Oh man, I’ve been on such a calamari kick lately, I practically started drooling on my computer when I saw your photo. I will definitely be making this for dinner! And Haley, I know what you mean- I’m often making things just because they go well with sriracha. It is my mistress of pain.

  13. Once I figured out the nam pla/kaffir lime/galangal thing, I declared independence from cheap Thai takeout forever. (The fact that there isn’t any cheap Thai takeout near here doesn’t hurt, either.)

  14. We just went to a relatively new Thai joint around the from the house and while the sushi was good, the pad thai was waaaaaay too sweet. I was so disappointed. I mean, MY homemade pad thai put theirs to shame.

    Now this, fresh, healthy, salad is something I can wrap my head (or chopsticks) around. Looks delicious!

  15. i recently had a falling out with a local Japanese (high-end) place. i posted a rant on chowhound but it got deleted- apparently we are not allowed to rant about customer service on chowhound. hrmph. i never went back to this restaurant, and wish i could replicate their dishes the way you have replicated this calamari salad.

    i am a huge fan of any and all fried food (it is the Pakistani in me), and chilies, of course. i’d love to make this for guests as a first course.

  16. What a yummy dish. Just looking at it made me very hungry indeed. I shall try the recipe in due course, because I like very spicy dishes.
    Thank you and good luck!

  17. you people think that just because you come in once a week, that you deserve “preferential” treatment?? seriously? how about get off your high horse and wait in line and be treated like crap like everyone else. as someone who works in the service industry, we like to treat our nice regulars with a bit of extra personal service, however, when they come to expect such treatment and therefore take it for granted that we treat them this way, we usually stop (note the use of the adjective ‘nice’). there’s nothing worse or more hated than an ungrateful customer, no matter how often you eat there. and while YOU may think you’re single-handedly ‘saving’ the business by your patronage alone, you are sorely mistaken and we will feel free to let it be known. 🙂

    just don’t piss off the people who handle your food. that’s my golden rule.

    1. OK, Sc.
      First I have to thank you for your comment. It was honest and I respect your “passion” for the food industry. What you DON’T know is that I worked for the food industry in front and back of house for 10 years. I have restaurant experience. BELIEVE ME, I know the difference b/w good, decent and just plain HORRIBLE (re: I don’t give a s–t about your business) type of customer service. So, please don’t tell me I was asking for any type of preferential treatment. You have no idea what happened to make me so upset. You have NO idea! So before you decide to put me in my place, maybe you can stop tell me that I’m acting as though I”m better than anyone and “on a high horse”. Give me a break. YOU clearly have never been in the restaurant business (or if you did, I would never want you running the place, waiting tables, serving me a drink or cooking my food w/ that attitude). If you have worked in the restaurant business you know that sometimes (even if it pains you to admit) the customer IS right and the restaurant is wrong. Yes, I totally agree there are customers whose complaints are worth spitting in their food for. Again, you have zero clue about why I banned them so stop pretending like I was in the wrong and not the restaurant. And the idea of saving the business was sarcasm. SARCASM – do you think i’m that stupid to actually believe in rent-crazy Brooklyn that I had the ability to keep any place open with a $8 panang curry? sarcasm, dude.

      Lastly, they pissed me off badly enough that as of today (and I still live in the neighborhood), I have still never gone back to that Thai restaurant. It’s been 6 years. I’m not the only one either that feels the way I do. I’d link to their YELP page, but I don’t want to piss you off any more b/c I am beginning to think you work for the restaurant and are disgruntled.

  18. This looks so delicious, I am very glad to have found your blog! You have a rigatoni pasta with sausage I’m really excited to try too. I’m very much into food photography/styling and it’s very inspiring looking through your beautiful photos, thank you.

Like this post? Hate this post? Let us know!