Yes, this is indeed the salt and pepper squid recipe you order from your local Chinese take-away, only better. I worked hard for this recipe but I have no regrets. I wanted to achieve a crispy coating on the squid, not too thick so as not to absorb too much oil. I apologise in advance if you are a healthy eater, but this squid needs to be deep fried. Ther is no other way about it. But if you achieve the right coating and drain on kitchen paper after frying, the end result is a crunchy, salty, peppery, non-oily squid. You will never order take-away again.
- Sunflower oil for deep frying (or any other oil of your preference. Grapeseed oil works well here)
- 500 grams small squid, cleaned and cut in 4-5 cm triangles
- 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 8 Tbs cornflour
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1 red chilli pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
Score the squid with a sharp knife, diagonally, to create a cris-cross pattern. Leave the tentacles in one piece. Crush the pepper and the salt in a mortar and pestle. Mix 2/3 of the salt and pepper mixture with the corn flour.
In a large pot, pour plenty of oil (about 3 inches high), over medium-high heat. You can also heat a deep fat fryer, if you have one, to 180 C. Dip the squid pieces in the slightly beaten egg, then in the cornflour mixture. Deep fry in small batches (don’t crowd the pot), 1-2 minutes until squid is crunchy and light beige in colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
In a large frying pan, heat 1 Tbs oil over high heat. Add the chili, spring onion and garlic. Cook for about a minute, stirring constantly. Add the fried squid in the frying pan and stir through. Take off the heat and sprinkle with the remaining salt-pepper mix. Serve at once.