-1 (10-oz) bag of frozen calamari/squid rings (can be found at many grocery stores or Asian Markets)
-2 cups Panko bread crumbs (found in the Asian food aisle)
-1 Tbsp cayenne pepper
-1 Tbsp salt
-1 Tbsp dried oregano
-1/2 cup flour
-2 egg whites
-additional salt and pepper to taste
For Dipping Sauces:
-1/4 cup jarred marinara sauce
-1/2 cup light mayo
-1/4 cup light sour cream
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
-juice from 1/2 lemon (other half cut into wedges for serving)
-Srircha to taste (if you want to make it spicy!)
First, thaw your frozen calamari rings by setting on the counter for a few hours, or running under cool water. Rinse them in a strainer and pat dry.
While the squid is thawing out, make your dipping sauce. The first dipping sauce is easy: jarred marinara sauce. The second one just takes a bit of chopping and mixing. First, chop your parsley and garlic. In a small bowl mix together the sour cream, mayo, juice from 1/2 lemon, parsley and garlic. If you want to make your garlic aioli sauce a little spicy add some Sriracha, 1 Tbsp at a time. I split the aioli in half and made some spicy so I could have two different sauces.
Next, on a plate spread the flour evenly and season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg whites. In another, larger bowl, mix together the Panko bread crumbs, 1 Tbsp salt, 1 Tbsp cayenne pepper, 1 Tbsp oregano. I set up a little assembly line starting with the flour plate, then the egg whites, then the bread crumbs and finally a greased baking sheet (just spray with PAM). Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Working with 4-6 rings at a time, coat with flour, shake off excess. Then plop in the egg whites and let extra drip off before throwing into the Panko. Shake the bowl around (or use tongs or fork) to completely cover each ring in the bread crumbs. Transfer to a single layer on the baking sheet.
Continue the steps for the remaining calamari rings.
Bake for 7 minutes, remove from oven and flip each ring. Bake for another 5 minutes and pull out. Sprinkle with some sea salt (or kosher, or regular table salt). Serve immediately with lemon wedges and your dipping sauces. Be sure not to bake too long or the calamari will get chewy and rubbery = eww. I recommend squeezing lots of lemon all over the calamari. Enjoy this fancy appetizer with only about 1/2 the calories of a restaurant serving.