Salt and pepper cuttlefish is a crowd favourite and popular at parties. It’s quite easy to do – you’ll just need to allow a few minutes to cook it fresh as your guests arrive. This recipe will serve four people as a starter.
- 200 g squid tubes, cleaned
- 2 litres vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 egg white
- 200 g potato starch
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
- 2 bird's eye chillies, finely sliced
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1 tsp salt and pepper seasoning mix (see recipe, below)
- ¼ cup garlic aioli (see recipe, below)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp fine white pepper
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp five-spice powder
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp finely ground white pepper
- 250 ml olive oil
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.
To make seasoning mix, place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together well. Makes 2 tbsp.
To make aïoli, using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic cloves into a paste. Secure a mixing bowl on folded tea towel so it does not move around while whisking. Place the garlic paste, egg yolks, lemon juice, salt and white pepper in the bowl, and whisk well. Add olive oil, a few drops at a time, to the egg yolk mixture, whisking slowly as you add the oil. Once you have added about 50 ml of oil, you can continue to add the oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking slowly, until thick and emulsified. Place the mayonnaise in a container, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Makes 250 ml.
Lay the cuttlefish on a cutting board. Insert a knife into the top edge of the body and run it down to the base of the cuttlefish. Fold the tube open as you would a book. Working from the top right of the cuttlefish to the bottom left, make diagonal slices in the flesh, making sure not to penetrate through. Then work from the top left to the bottom right of the cuttlefish, to make a crisscross pattern. Cut the cuttlefish in half from top to base, turn it horizontally and slice through to make 5 mm-wide pieces. Place in a bowl.
In a wok over high heat, heat the oil to 180°C (350°F), or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil browns in 15 seconds.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg white until it slightly foams up, and pour half of it into the bowl with the cuttlefish. Work the egg white into the cuttlefish with your fingers, then start adding the potato starch, a little at a time. Keep adding the potato starch to the cuttlefish until it is well covered and feels quite dry.
Shake off any excess flour then start adding the cuttlefish to the oil, a few pieces at a time, but in quick succession to maintain the heat of the oil. Use a metal strainer to lift out the starch that floats free of the cuttlefish, and discard. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the batter on the cuttlefish feels quite firm when tapped with a wooden spoon. Carefully transfer the cuttlefish to a colander to drain the oil.
Drain all but 2 tsp of oil from the wok, then return it to the heat. Add the spring onion, chilli and garlic and toss to combine. Return the cuttlefish to the wok, and continue to toss while shaking over the seasoning mix. Serve with garlic aïoli.