Sometimes, a simple recipe, one that leaves the main ingredient in a near-pure form, is the best! Lemon Pepper Squid is such a recipe; with the help of a few seasonings, some lemon juice, and oil, these are quickly cooked until just charred on a very hot grill so that they are super tender and most certainly super flavourful!
Have you ever had overcooked seafood? I have! It’s probably the reason why I don’t care that much for seafood dishes. Take, for example, classic fish and chips. In order to get the batter crispy, the fish inside is sometimes cooked to the point that it has become rubbery. Lemon Pepper Squid is one of the seafood dishes that can easily be overcooked. And, if so, they are like chewing on rubber, and nobody wants that!
If you follow this recipe exactly the way it is written, I promise you that your squid will be tender too. Since I mentioned classic fish and chips in the previous paragraph, I should tell you that I do have a fried fish recipe to share with you. Unlike the classic fried fish, or the beer-battered fried fish, my version uses store-bought pancake batter and it’s delicious! To be perfectly honest, most often, I bake fish rather than fry it. It’s certainly easier to clean up!
The three most common types of fish I cook are salmon, cod, and tilapia. My Sriracha Honey Lime Salmon, my Baked Cod with Lemon and Capers, and finally, my Lemon Garlic Tilapia, can be found by clicking on the links. And, if you’re looking for battered squid rings, or calamari, be sure to check out my Old Bay Fried Calamari!
Make your own online recipe box!
Click the in the lower right corner of your screen
& follow the quick and easy instructions!
FROZEN VERSUS FRESH SQUID
Unless you know of a good fishmonger, you will most likely be purchasing your squid from the frozen section at your local grocery store. That’s just how I got these. Use a trusted brand and purchase only squids that are in a see-through package! Otherwise, you’re likely to end up with a large percentage of just tentacles.
Now, if you’re able to do so, buy fresh squid that has been already cleaned and cut into rings. It’s certainly easier and less messy to do it that way. However, if you want the freshest squid you can get, you might have to learn how to clean it yourself. I’ve cleaned many squid when I was younger. And, I’ve cleaned a few in my adult years. I’ll walk you through it. It’s not a pleasant task and if you’re squeamish at all, skip over to the next section now.
HOW TO PREPARE SQUID
First, position your thumb and finger down into the neck of the squid. On either side, you’ll feel a little connective tissue. Get your thumb and finger right up against it and forcefully twist. This will break the tissue. You’re then able to pull the head off and it should pull most of the innards with it.
You can discard this entirely, or you can cut off the tentacles and grill them too. I’m not a fan of the tentacles unless they are battered and fried, so I always discard them. The next thing to do is to remove the tail. Firmly grasp the tail from the widest end and break through the connective tissue with your thumb and finger. Pull it off and discard it.
Next, turn the body of the squid inside out. The easiest way is to push the narrow end up into the cavity and out the top, open end. Remove any small, clear bones. Using a knife, gently scrape the interior of the squid to remove any leftover tissue. Turn the squid out so that the reddish-brown skin is on the outside again.
YOU’RE ALMOST DONE! HERE’S THE HARDEST PART!
This next step is the hardest part. I always hate removing the skin! Here’s how I do it. Cut about a half inch off the narrow end. Insert the sharp end of your knife under the skin where you made the cut. Cut in an upward motion, away from the flesh. You should now be able to peel the skin off. It’s tedious and takes practice.
Once the body of the squid is free of skin, lay the tubular squid flat and slice off the top 1/4 inch to completely get rid of any skin. Now, you’re ready to slice the squid into slices. You’ve just prepared calamari!! Congratulations. How many more of these do you want to do? Now, you understand why I prefer to buy them already cleaned. For this particular recipe, once you cut the body of the squid into rings, cut one side so that you are left with long strands of squid.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED FOR THIS RECIPE:
The following is a list of the ingredients needed to prepare this Lemon Pepper Squid recipe. For exact amounts and measurements, refer to the printable recipe card located near the bottom of this post.
- Squid – You will need four pounds of rings, so account for that if you buy fresh squid and get a couple extra!
- Olive Oil – I like the flavour of olive oil, and because it has a higher smoking point, it’s great over a very hot grill.
- Lemon Juice – Use freshly squeezed lemon juice here!
- Lemons – You will need a couple of lemon wedges for serving.
- Salt and Ground Black Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
HOW TO MAKE LEMON PEPPER SQUID
Prepare your squid, frozen or fresh, so that you have cut them into stands or ribbons about a half-inch wide. Pat them dry with paper towels and transfer them to a bowl. Next, in a separate small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Pour this mixture over the squid and toss well to coat. Set the squid aside for 10 minutes to marinate.
Once the squid has marinated, it’s time to assemble the skewers. Pierce through the middle end of one piece of squid and folding it over onto itself, pierce it again. The next pierce should have you folding the piece of squid back on itself to create a ribbon-like effect on the skewer. Once all of the squid has been prepared, set aside and preheat your grill.
Just like when you preheat your oven when you bake a cake, preheating a grill is vitally important for several reasons, but there are two I’ll discuss now. First, preheating a grill will prevent the food from sticking. When the grill is hot, and the squid is placed on it, it will instantly begin to sear. This sear not only adds flavour and looks pretty, it also prevents the squid from sticking.
Secondly, preheating the grill will pretty much eliminate the need to overcook! If you place the squid on a cold grill and turn on the heat, before the grill is hot, the squid has already started to cook from the heat building on the grill. This will overcook the squid and make it dry and chewy – that’s not very appealing at all!
Once your grill is preheated to 400 degrees F, place the skewers on the grill and cook the squid for 2 minutes per side. Transfer the grilled Lemon Pepper Squid to a serving platter, garnish, and serve with lots of lemon wedges.
When it comes to Lemon Pepper Squid, you cannot go wrong with a good salad. I say that because most of us tend to grill in the summer months. Whenever I think of a summer grill, I always think of a really good green salad. Since the squid is seasoned with pepper and lemons, try to mimic those flavours. In my opinion, a Caesar salad might be the best option.
A Caesar salad almost always has ground black pepper in the dressing. It also has anchovies, which are seafood, just like the squid. And, finally, a Caesar salad is best with freshly squeezed lemon juice. I can’t think of a better combination!
Do You Like This Recipe?
You should consider trying these other delicious recipes too!
Lemon Pepper Squid
- 4 pounds squid, frozen or fresh, cleaned, and trimmed
- 3 tablepoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- fresh lemon wedges, for serving
- Prepare your squid, frozen or fresh, so that you have cut them into stands or ribbons about a half inch wide. Pat them dry with paper towels and transfer them to a bowl.
- Next, in a separate small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Pour this mixture over the squid and toss well to coat. Set the squid aside for 10 minutes to marinate.
- Once the squid has marinated, it’s time to assemble the skewers. Pierce through the middle end of one piece of squid and folding it over onto itself, pierce it again. The next pierce should have you folding the piece of squid back on itself to create a ribbon-like effect on the skewer. Once all of the squid has been prepared, set aside and preheat your grill.
- Once your grill is preheated to 400 degrees F, place the skewers on the grill and cook the squid for 2 minutes per side.
- Transfer the grilled Lemon Pepper Squid to a serving platter, garnish, and serve with lots of lemon wedges.
Did you make this recipe?
Upload a photo and tag me so that I can see it!