Remove the head from the mantle (body) by gently pulling on the head and tangles to pull out the innards. Make sure to remove the beak from underneath the tentacles by gently squeezing it and pulling it out. Cut off the tentacles right between the eye and where they connect.
Pull the cartilage out of the mangle and rinse out the tentacles and the mantle inside and out. Take the skin off, if you wish, by pinching it and pulling it off. It should peel off quite easy.
Place sliced squid into a small mixing bowl and add whole milk until it's just covered. Add a couple of pinches of salt and mix well.
Add oil into a deep, cooking pan, a 2.5-3 qt pot, or a skillet and let it heat up to 365°-375° over medium-high heat. (You can also use a fryer if you have one.)
Cover a wire rack with a couple of paper towels and place it inside a rimmed baking sheet.
In a wide, shallow bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper.
When oil comes to temperature, it's time to fry.
Pull squid pieces out of milk and let excess milk drip off back into the mixing bowl.
Set aside and let it soak while you prepare to fry. (Give it about 15-20 minutes to soak.)
Toss the squid into the flour mixture and gently toss the pieces around to coat them evenly but make sure they are not clumping. It's best to do it in batches to the pieces are coated evenly and don't clump together.
Carefully add dredged calamari into the hot oil using either metal slotted spoon or metal tongs. Let it cook for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown.
Take calamari out of the oil using a metal slotted spoon, metal slotted spatula or metal tongs. Spread cooked calamari onto the prepared paper towel covered wire rack. Repeat with remaining calamari.
NOTE: If you are working in small batches, you can keep fried calamari warm by placing the prepared wire rack into the oven heated to 150°170°.
Serve fried calamari with marinara sauce or lemon aioli**.
*Note - if buying whole calamari, account for the innards and cuttlebone that you will be discarding, so get about 1.25-1.5 lb whole calamari.
**For easy lemon aioli: combine 1/2 cup of mayonnaise, 1 small garlic clove (pressed), zest off of 1 lemon, and a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. Add some salt and pepper to taste, and voila!