I must admit, I am very wary about ordering Salt & Pepper Squid when I am out as I have been disappointed on most occasions. The squid is chewy, the batter is heavy or soggy and the accompaniments are less than favourable. Not so with my Emmalicious rendition!! Crispy, tender squid paired with a gorgeous Thai style, zesty green mango salad and a dressing that packs a brilliant punch! Restaurant food at home……
Prep time: 30 Minutes Cooking time: 15 Minutes $-$$ Low to Medium Budget
Oil for deep frying (use a low smoke point oil such as peanut, rice bran or sunflower)
2 large squid tubes or 4 small calamari tubes
1 tbs of szechuan peppercorns
1 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp of Chinese five spice
1/2 a cup of rice flour
2 egg whites, whisked
For the Salad:
1 green mango* peeled
11/2 cups of bean shoots
1/2 a red onion, very finely sliced
1 cup of mint leaves
1 cup of coriander leaves
Deep fried shallots and coriander sprigs for garnish
For the Dressing: (if you have a Turbo Chef this is the perfect time to use it!)
2 tbs of olive oil
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 lemon grass stalk, white part only, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely grated
2cm piece of ginger, finely grated
1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tbs of fish sauce
1 tbs of palm sugar (or 1 tbs of caster sugar)
To prepare the squid, slice each tube in half lengthways so that you have two flat, long pieces. Pat dry with a bit of paper towel and use a pairing knife to lightly score the inside of each piece, on the diagonal about half a centimetre apart. Repeat the same technique on the other diagonal. If you are unsure how to do this you could get your fish man to do it or Google “How to score squid” and I am sure you will find a very quick demo on Youtube. Once you have scored the inside of each flat piece of squid, use the score lines as a guide to slice them fully about 2cm apart so you have nice even pieces.
Use a small dry pan to lightly toast the szechuan peppercorns for approximately 1-2 minutes or until aromatic. Use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to grind them up along with the salt until you have a nice fine powder. Combine the five spice powder and flour with pepper and salt and sprinkle onto a flat plate. Dip the squid pieces in the whisked egg whites and then pop them on the plate with the flour. Use your fingers to toss the squid in the flour until they are all evenly coated in the floury mix, shake off the excess and set aside. You could use a plastic bag too.
To prepare the salad, slice the mango off the pip, as close to it as you can get. Cut the mango chunks into 2 inch thick pieces and use the grater attachment on your food processor to grate it up. Transfer it to a large bowl and add the bean sprouts, onion, mint leaves and coriander leaves. Toss the ingredients together to combine.
To make the dressing combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Have a taste and if you think it needs adjusting to get the perfect balance of hot, salty, sweet and sour pop in a little more sugar or lime or fish sauce. Everyone’s palate is different……
Heat the oil in a wok or deep fryer until really hot. I always throw a bit of the flour mix in and if it bubbles up vigorously straight away the oil is ready. Deep fry the squid pieces in batches for 3-4 minutes until golden. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towel and keep warm in the oven while you fry the rest. It is important not to overcrowd the deep fryer or wok as it will bring the temperature of the oil down. Probably 2-3 batches is best.
To serve, pile a nice mound of the salad on a plate along side the squid. Scatter over the deep fried shallots and drizzle over a little of the dressing. Place the rest of the dressing in a serving bowl on the table. Top with coriander sprigs and serve…..
*If you can’t get green mango you could substitute for green paw paw or finely shredded wombok cabbage would be awesome too!