Salt and Pepper Squid
When I am at the type of western restaurant that serves deep-fried calamari rings as an appetizer I usually select them because, in such places (with the exception of good Italian restaurants), the rest of the appetizer menu is usually not that interesting. I like deep-fried Calamari most of the time but I also prefer to eat heavily battered deep-fried foods only sparingly, if only as a matter of personal taste rather than for health reasons.
Since I had some frozen Calamari Rings unused after a previous meal, I decided to use them as a deep-fried appetizer, but, rather than using the typical sort of thick batter, I thought I would use a much lighter Asian frying technique along with a seasoning that is especially popular with shrimp…
- 1 cup Squid strips;
- 1 Egg White;
- 1/3 cup Cornstarch;
- 1 tsp. Black Pepper;
- ½ tsp. ground Sichuan Pepper;
- 1 tsp. crushed Chili Pepper;
- 1 tbsp. Rice Wine;
- ½ tsp. Garlic Salt (or plain salt).
You can use whole squid and cut the bodies up, if you like, but I used frozen Calamari rings and simply made a cut in one side of each ring to make suitable strips.
First, blend the squid with the egg white, along with the garlic salt, sichuan pepper, the rice wine and 1 tbsp. of the cornstarch. Allow this to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.
Now, blend the remaining cornstarch in a deep bowl with the black pepper and the chili pepper and set aside.
When you are ready to cook, heat deep-fry oil in a suitable pot over moderately high heat and then remove the squid from the marinade, allowing as much of the liquid component to drain away. Then, toss the squid pieces, a few at a time, with the cornstarch mixture and shake the remaining powder away.
(The next part took place too quickly to be able to take a picture…)
When the oil comes up to high heat, deep-fry the squid pieces in several batches for thirty seconds to a minute per batch, using a pair of chopsticks to separate the pieces. Once done, scoop the pieces from the oil and drain on a piece of kitchen paper. Plate and serve along with an appropriate dipping sauce (soy sauce with lemon juice, or Sriracha, for example) if desired.
Well, my wife really, really enjoyed this and, to be honest, I thought it was as good as any I have had in any restaurant with the possible exception of some I had at the Empire Grill in Ottawa a couple of summers ago. I was, however, trying for a spicier dish than the typical restaurant offering and I thought the seasoning was just a little weak. A little more salt would have been an improvement, certainly, and I would add more of the Sichuan Pepper next time. Beyond that, though, these were a success…