In too many Chinese restaurants, chilli-salt squid is made from frozen squid – and it’s often so salty that you can’t stop drinking! What you’re left with is an overall sense of cluttered and clumsy flavours. Working with Neil Perry at Rockpool really drummed into me the importance of freshness, and what I want to show you with this recipe of Neil’s is how amazing chilli-salt squid is when it’s done properly. So I use the freshest squid from South Australia, I test the chilli-salt to make sure it’s not too salty and not too spicy, and I use fresh oil. This allows the natural integrity of the ingredients to come through, and then all you need is some aromatic spring onions and coriander, and a squeeze of lemon juice.
I use the freshest squid from South Australia, I test the chilli-salt to make sure it’s not too salty and not too spicy, and I use fresh oil.
- 600 g (1¼ lb) small whole squid
- ⅓ cup plain (all-purpose) flour
- 1 tbsp chilli powder
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- vegetable oil for deep-frying
- 2 large red chillies, cut in half lengthways and deseeded
- 2 tbsp spring onion (scallion) julienne
- ¼ cup coriander sprigs
- 2 lemons, halved
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.
Serve as a starter for 4
- Clean squid by gently pulling head and tentacles away from the body. Pull out the clear backbone (quill) from inside the body and discard entrails. Cut tentacles from the head just below the eyes; discard head. Remove side wings and fine membrane from body. Rinse body, tentacles and wings thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen paper. Cut squid down the centre so that it will open out flat, and slice body and wings into 5 mm (¼ in) wide strips.
- In a large bowl, combine flour, chilli powder and salt. Add squid, including tentacles, and toss to coat, shaking off any excess flour.
- Heat oil in a hot wok until the surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add half the squid and deep-fry for about 1 minute, or until just tender and beginning to colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on kitchen paper. Repeat process with remaining squid.
- Add chillies to the same hot oil and fry for about 30 seconds, or until they are a deep bright-red colour; remove with a slotted spoon and drain well.
- Arrange squid on a platter and garnish with fried chillies, spring onions and coriander. Serve immediately, with lemon halves.