We have a philosophy when buying new household gadgets – particularly kitchen ones. If we think we need something we will invariably buy a cheap version of whatever it is to test out how much we do actually need it. The idea is that if said thing breaks within a year then we get a replacement under warranty and if said thing breaks after a year we have an idea whether or not we should invest in a more serious version of the gadget.
This is great in theory. In practice, what happens is that we buy a cheap or moderately priced thing, we use it and it lasts forever. Our coffee machine was £50 – eight years and two countries later, it is still motoring along very nicely. Another great example is the cheap deep fat fryer. It’s a house brand model from one of the cheaper department stores and while it doesn’t get the beating the coffee machine does, it is used regularly (and loaned out regularly) and is yet to miss a beat. $30 well spent.
It has been over a year since we visited salt and pepper squid, and this time we used a recipe we got from a That’s Life bonus magazine. Unfortunately the recipe doesn’t appear to be online.
I prefer the flavours in this approach – much brighter, more complex and with more depth. We deviated from the recipe (of course) because there were some ingredients we didn’t have (either at all or readily to hand) and we turned it into a one step process.
I think a great way of working next time would be to use the spice mix here, but take the egg white and rice flour approach of the previous attempt. We just need to convince my uncle to catch us some more squid …
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp chilli powder (you may wish to amp this up)
- salad to serve
- Heat the oil in the deep fat fryer.
- Please the cornflour and spice mix in a plastic bag and give a good shake before either tipping into a bowl and coating the squid or putting a couple of pieces of squid into the bag and shaking. If you do put the squid in the bag, don't put lots of pieces in at once, otherwise they'll just clump together.
- Fry the squid in batches. Drain on kitchen towel and keep warm in the oven while you cook the remaining squid.
- Serve immediately with sliced fresh chilli for decoration.
When we go to the library (sometimes we get into a routine of going once a week, sometimes it’s more sporadic) the small child chooses his books and toys extremely quickly. Books in particular. Super quick. No browsing here.
But that means there’s no tolerance for my own browsing and so I end up letting him choose a cookbook. So it was that we ended up coming up with the AWW Barbecues & Grills when the weather at the time was far from suggestive of barbecues.
Obviously, a grill or a griddle pan does a perfect approximation of a bbq for indoor purposes but I think it’s also true that you feel a bit less like summery grilled foods with salads in the middle of winter. This made choosing a dish from this out of season book somewhat tricky … but I settled finally on an easy grilled squid dish. In the book it is served with an apple and celery coleslaw but we choose noodles with stir fried Asian greens.
Like many of the dishes in the book (and, perhaps, like many of the best BBQ dishes) this is extremely simple. I bought whole squid which we then had to clean and chop but it would work perfectly with squid rings. And if cephalopods aren’t your thing then the marinade would work well with barbecued or grilled chicken, pork or even some meatier fish.
This cook book is actually one I would seek out to add to my collection. From a design point of view, the recipes are laid out with plenty of space, there are beautiful pictures and the recipes themselves are easy to follow with step by step instructions. Yes, some things are a little basic if you spend any time in the kitchen – Cajun chicken burgers, for example, is basically a case of take chicken breast and rub with Cajun seasoning – but the recipes are a good spread from the very basic and quick through to more novel and labour intensive ideas. And quite a few of the accompaniments or side dishes do put a new twist on things. While this book won’t turn you into a Michelin starred chef, it will enable everyone to put something tasty and quick on the barbecue and give you few new ideas as a bonus.
- squid hoods (or rings, or perhaps sliced chicken or pork) enough for two
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 generous tsp grated ginger
- sambal oelek to taste (anywhere up to and beyond 2 tsp!)
- Create the marinade by mixing the sesame oil, grated ginger and sambal oelek.
- Prep your meat - if using the squid hoods, score them and chop into generous bite size pieces. Slice finely pork or chicken.
- Combine the meat with the marinade and set aside for a little. This is not a dish which needs a long marinade.
- Heat your cooking surface to a good high temperature. Cook the squid until just opaque - you will most likely need to do this in small batches and use tongs to turn the pieces. Don't overcook the squid!
- Serve immediately as a starter with an apple and celery coleslaw (that's the book's suggestion) or with stir fried Asian greens and noodles.
I was particularly excited when, a few weeks ago, a new fishmonger opened at Brighton (Brighton Fresh Seafoods, in the Brighton Central shopping centre, on the corner of Brighton Road and Edwards Street). The selection of fish you can buy in the supermarket is dire (tough luck if you want anything local and fresh other than salmon) and our nearest fishmonger is in Westfield Marion which is not always a … um … pleasant shopping experience!
So I was keen to try out the new shop and Andy decided he was keen for making some salt and pepper squid. It’s taken us so long to purchase some Szechuan peppercorns that we’re now trying to use them in pretty much anything. And we had fresh oil in the fryer that had been used for chips a couple of times so we figured one more batch of chips and some S&P squid would be a fitting end to it.
I ended up picking up some thawed Australian squid rings and set about researching how best to do salt and pepper squid. Providing you have a deep fat fryer, it’s actually very easy and while I will provide you with a ‘recipe’ (of sorts) the important things are the RICE FLOUR (note – flour, not ground rice!) and the egg whites. Dabbing the squid dry (especially if it is thawed) is quite important – if only to solve the problem of the fryer spitting. And don’t be tempted to make a batter – a two step process is how you want to proceed.
In terms of flavouring – work with what you like and fry up a couple of rings first to check that you have the balance to your taste. Our first effort was overpowered with Chinese five spice (I would say that – I don’t particularly like it!) so we adjusted this by adding more Szechuan pepper. If you don’t have Szechuan pepper, you could try using chilli flakes, pepper and salt. And, of course, a really good way of adding extra heat is to make up a batch of a spice mix to serve on the side.
- 500 g squid rings, thawed (if previously frozen) and dried with kitchen towel
- 2 egg whites, very lightly beaten
- ~ 4 tbsp rice flour
- spices to your taste, for example
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- generous pinch of salt
- 1 tsp Szechuan pepper
- pinch of Chinese five spice
- Heat the oil in your deep fat fryer to 190°C.
- Place the rice flour and spices in a large, shallow bowl and mix well.
- Dip the rings a couple at a time in the egg whites and then dip in the flour and spice mix.
- Fry the rings until golden and crispy, turning once. Don't overload the fryer - for most domestic fryers start with about 4 rings and see how you go.
- Remove from the fryer and drain on kitchen towel. Allow to cool slightly and taste to ensure the spice blend is right for you.
- Keep the cooked rings warm in the oven as you fry the remainder.
- Serve immediately with a squeeze of lemon.