Monday, 28 March 2011

Crispy chilli and salt squid

This is a bit of a Chinese takeaway guilty pleasure of mine, whether it's one of a few dishes being eaten on an evening in, or devoured all on its own when you're feeling ravenous after a night out.

Even though I generally buy it in, it's actually an easy dish to create at home, one that involves two of my favourite ingredients; chillies and salt. Both are very important in our house. You could say I've got a bit of an addiction to them both, so a dish such as this that majors on each is a real winner.

I like the soft squid being encased in the hot, salty, crispy and light coating - and rather than a batter such as tempura, using a dry coating made from cornflour creates a brilliantly crunchy and fine outer.

I find it's partly the tingly heat and naughty amount of salt that makes these so delicious and moreish - so if you'd rather eat something less naughty salt-wise then perhaps make something else.  

A snack or starter for 2: 
2 large fully cleaned squid (I didn't use the tentacles but you can, I just used the pocket. You could also use baby squid if you prefer) cut into strips and scored lightly in a cross hatched fashion on what would have been their inside
4 heaped tablespoons cornflour
1/2 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
1 teaspoon five spice powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon Japanese sansyo pepper (mixed Japanese pepper that you'll get from Asian supermarkets or online)
1/2 teaspoon dried chillies
A spring onion and half a deseeded red chilli finely sliced for garnish
A few sprigs of coriander
Groundnut oil or vegetable oil for trying

- In a pestle and mortar combine the salt and Szechuan pepper and grind into a powder, then add it and the the five spice and sansyo pepper into a bowl with the cornflour and mix thoroughly
- Bring the oil (at least a couple of inches of it) to temperature for around 7 minutes in a deep saucepan on a medium- high heat
- Place the squid pieces into the cornflour mix until they're all covered, then turn the saucepan of oil onto a medium heat and carefully lower the squid in
- Fry the squid making sure you turn it over if they aren't totally covered, for 1 minute, then carefully remove and drain on kitchen paper
- Pile into a bowl and dress with the coriander, chillies and spring onions, give another scrunch of salt and shake of the sansyo pepper, then eat


  1. This sounds very naughty but then I am all for that... x

  2. Lordy! This looks awesome! I'd be tempted to use the tentacles, though, cos of the lovely way the suckers trap extra cornflour and make it super crunchy........ mmmmmmmmmmmmm.... going to try this soon! Bookmarked!

  3. Thanks ladies!

    Liz I totally agree, these giant squid tubes I'd bought didnt come with the tentacles but I'd certainly have given them the same treatment if they had! I hope you enjoy x

  4. I currently have some szechuan peppercorns that I'm wondering what to use in. This would be perfect.

  5. Hi Corina

    Yes this would be ideal, also have a look at my whole poached asian chicken version 2 - it uses the lovely peppercorn also in a very aromatic broth with rice noodles made with the poaching stock - link is here, let me know what you think: