CHILLI SALT & PEPPER SQUID WITH FRESH LIME
Serves 4 as a starter
This dish is best cooked "a la minute" so make sure you have all of your ingredients prepared, your serving plate with lettuce cups and fresh herbs ready to go, and your guests seated before you begin frying the squid. It only takes a few minutes to cook and is so delicious eaten piping hot.
1 ½ tbsp cornflour
1 ½ tbsp plain flour
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp crushed Sichuan peppercorns
vegetable oil for deep-frying
4 small iceberg lettuce leaves, chilled
2 limes, halved
handful coriander sprigs
handful mint leaves
1. First, clean and score the squid (see step-by-step guide below).
2. In a large bowl, combine flours, salt, chilli powder and Sichuan pepper. Add squid and toss to coat, shaking off any excess flour.
3. Heat oil in a hot wok until surface seems to shimmer slightly. Add half the squid and deep-fry for about 1½ minutes or until just tender and beginning to colour. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on kitchen paper. Repeat process with remaining squid.
4. Arrange chilled lettuce cups on a platter and top with squid. Serve immediately with lime halves and fresh herbs.
How to clean and score squid
1. Gently pull the head and tentacles away from the body and discard the entrails.
2. Cut the tentacles from the head just below the eyes. Reserve the tentacles and discard the head.
3. Remove and discard the fine, purplish-black membrane from the body.
4. Trim the side "wings" from the body and set aside.
5. Pull out the clear "backbone" (quill) from inside the body, then rinse body, tentacles and wings thoroughly and pat dry with kitchen paper.
6. Cut squid down the centre so that it will open out flat.
7. Using a sharp knife, score shallow diagonal cuts in a crisscross pattern on the inside surface, taking care not to cut right through the squid. Scoring squid makes it curl on contact with hot oil, while also allowing flavours to penetrate into the squid.
8. Cut the scored squid in half and then into four-centimetre strips.
9. Trim the reserved "wings", then cut in half.