Salt and pepper squid with quick sweet chilli dipping sauce
Just a little more elaborate and piquant than basic squid rings, this salty combination is a real winner. Ideal to serve as a starter.
Prep 30mins Servs 4
Toast all the peppercorns in a small, non-stick frying pan for a couple of minutes until they become fragrant (this is not essential, but it does enhance the taste). Remove from the heat and grind with the dried chilli flakes, if using, and the salt, using a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder, until well combined. Mix with the cornflour until evenly combined. This seasoning for the squid can be made in advance and kept in a jar.
To make the dipping sauce, simply combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over a low heat until the jelly has dissolved and you have a silky syrup. Bring to a simmer and allow to bubble gently for a few minutes.
This will mellow the harshness of the garlic. Allow to cool and serve at room temperature. If the sauce re-sets to a jelly when cool, whisk in a splash of warm water.
To cook the squid, heat the oil to 180°C in a deep-fat fryer or a heavy, high-sided saucepan. If you don't have a cooking thermometer, test that it is hot enough by dropping a small piece of bread into the oil – it should bubble and fizz, turning golden brown in about a minute.
The squid rings should be slightly damp and sticky, but not dripping wet, for the seasoning to mixture to coat them well. If they are too dry, you can massage them with a little beaten egg white. The easiest way to coat them is to place a few rings of squid in a sieve with a few tablespoons of the mixture, then shake the sieve until the squid is evenly coated and any excess seasoning has dropped through.
Fry the seasoned squid in the hot oil, a few pieces at a time, for about a minute, until just golden. Transfer to a tray lined with kitchen paper and continue to cook the rest. Serve straight away, with the sweet chilli dipping sauce.
- 2 teaspoons Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional)
- 2 tablespoons sea salt
- 120g cornflour
- About 1 litre sunflower or groundnut oil for deep-frying
- 500g squid, cleaned and cut into rings about 1cm thick, plus the tentacles washed and dried but left intact
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten (optional)
For the sweet chilli dipping sauce:
- 3 tablespoons redcurrant or crab apple jelly
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 red chilli, deseeded and very finely chopped
- 1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped
- A few twists of black pepper
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