This fried calamari dish is one of the greatest meals you can eat while drinking beer and catching up with mates while trading travel stories.
- ½ tsp five-spice powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp caster (superfine) sugar
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) calamari hoods, cleaned and rinsed
- vegetable oil, for deep-frying and frying
- 1 egg, beaten
- ½ green capsicum (bell pepper), diced
- ½ red capsicum (bell pepper), diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 bird’s eye chillies, roughly chopped, plus
- extra to garnish
- 170 g (6 oz/1 cup) rice flour
- 100 ml (3½ fl oz) soda water (club soda)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. Combine the five-spice powder, salt and sugar in a bowl and set aside.
2. To make the batter, place the rice flour in a bowl and slowly add the soda water, gently whisking with a fork until the batter is smooth and runny. Set aside.
3. Using a knife, gently score the calamari hoods in a criss-cross pattern, then cut the calamari into medium triangles.
4. Heat 2 litres (2 qts) of oil in a wok or large saucepan over medium–high heat until it reaches 180°C (350°F) on a kitchen thermometer.
5. Working in batches, dip the calamari in the beaten egg followed by the batter, allowing any excess batter to drip off. Gently lower the calamari into the hot oil and cook for 4–5 minutes until golden brown. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat with the remaining calamari.
6. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over medium–high heat. Sauté the capsicum, onion, garlic and chilli for 2–3 minutes until the capsicum is just soft, then quickly toss through the fried calamari. Season with the reserved spice mix.
7. Serve immediately, garnished with extra chilli.
Recipe from Street Food Vietnam by Jerry Mai, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99