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Crispy fried squid at your fingertips.

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.

Reprinted with permission from Spice Odyssey