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