If the vast world of spices, whole and ground, seems a little exotic to you, pick up a copy of chef and cookbook author Paul Merrett's Spice Odyssey. Learn the basics of commonly used spices, then branch out and apply your knowledge to dishes from everyday classic to never-before-seen global specialties. First up, every food culture has a recipe for fried squid. Here's one you should make tonight.
If there were a Crispy Squid Eating World Championship, I would be remortgaging my house and putting all my money on my son, Richie, to come home with the gold medal. Crispy squid is one of those snacks that translates into any language. Spanish, Italian, Greek, Thai, Indian, Chinese…they all have a version. Some years ago I was stationed on the crispy squid section of a buffet catering for some incredibly posh guests at a well-to-do private party. Toward the end of lunch, a lady in a stupidly large hat glided past my station and told me that the food had been divine (I hate that word as a culinary description), apart from the onion rings, which were chewy and tasted peculiar. I just smiled.
The key to frying squid is to have the oil nice and hot, so the squid cooks very quickly. A hand-held thermometer is useful to indicate the temperature of the oil, but remember the temperature will continue to rise if the oil is left on the stove! The usual way of frying squid is to first coat it in either a batter or a seasoned flour. Batter is great but quite messy, so I opt for the simpler seasoned flour approach.
Papaya, Chile & Cilantro Salsa
- 1 papaya, finely diced
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 small red pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 1 red chile, finely diced
- grated zest and juice of 1 lime
- 10 mint leaves, finely chopped
- a bunch of cilantro, finely shredded (stems and all)
- 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
- 2 tablespoons sweet chile sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & Pepper Squid
- 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 tablespoons black pepper, cracked
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 12 raw squid tubes, cleaned and cut into 1-inch rings, and tentacles (See below)
For the salsa:
- Mix all of the ingredients and leave to stand at room temperature for 1 hour.
For the squid:
- Mix the flour with the paprika, salt and pepper on a large plate or dish.
- Pour the oil into a deep-fryer or large pan deep enough to hold 2 inches of oil. Bear in mind that it will bubble up when you put the squid in, so allow for this and don’t overfill the pan.
- Heat the oil to 350°F.
- The squid should be floured just before it’s fried, so just before the oil reaches the required temperature, toss the squid thoroughly in the seasoned flour and shake to remove any excess.
- Working in small, manageable batches rather than throwing it all in at once, gently slide the squid into the hot oil and let fry for about 4 minutes or until lightly colored.
- Cooking too much at once will cause the oil temperature to drop considerably, which in turn means that the squid takes longer to cook and therefore ends up chewy, so cooking in batches is really important here.
- Carefully remove the crispy squid from the oil using a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and serve immediately with the salsa.
Find more seafood dishes on Food Republic: