Salt and pepper squid might well be Australia’s national dish. I can hardly think of another that is so widely available everywhere, from pubs to cafés, bistros and restaurants. While the resilient squid can be simply tossed in a little flour, more delicate seafood, such as Queensland’s extraordinary Moreton Bay bugs, may need a light, crispy batter to protect it from the ravages of the oil.
- peanut oil, for deep-frying
- 100 g potato flour
- 125 ml (½ cup) chilled soda water
- 2 egg whites
- 6 Moreton Bay bugs, peeled, intestinal tract removed, halved lengthwise
- 4 cm piece ginger, thinly sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced on an angle
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced on an angle
- 1 tsp sea salt flakes
- 1 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp roasted macadamia nuts
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.
Half fill a wok with the oil and heat to 175°C.
Place the flour into a large bowl. Whisk in the soda water until combined. Whisk the egg whites in a bowl until frothy, then add to the bowl with the flour mixture and whisk until combined.
In two batches, dip the bugs into the batter, allowing any excess to drain off. Deep-fry the bugs for about 2-3 minutes or until light golden and almost cooked through. Drain well on a wire rack set inside a tray.
Remove the oil from the wok, leaving about 1 tbsp, and heat the wok over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, then after 10 seconds, add the garlic, chilli and spring onion. Toss to combine and until fragrant. Return the bugs to the wok and toss to combine. Season with lots of salt and freshly ground black pepper, tossing the bugs until they are well coated.
Transfer the bug mixture to a plate and grate over the macadamias. Serve as a starter.