As a chef you can hate salt and pepper squid mainly because it is so popular with the public, and to be fair chefs as well when it is perfectly done. When we opened the Ramada Hotel for the Sparr Group in 2003 we opened to almost nine months of the most fabulous weather salt and pepper squid drove us crazy. Post a 12-hour shift, probably the sixth for the week I would be in the kitchen with sous chefs Rebecca Stubbs and Alexandra Brown cleaning thirty kilos of squid that we knew would be gone by Sunday. Yes we did have a bevvy bullied from the bar a battle with an ungrateful F&B who thought buying it in the box would be just as good.
The reason we sold so much was because our customers loved our quality and came back for it time and time again.
Served in our premier restaurant with a simple rockmelon [canteloupe] salad…just perfectly ripe cubed rockmelon, chopped chives, a scattering of roasted Nigella seeds [onion seeds], freshly milled black pepper and dressed with a few drops of sesame oil and a lime wedge. Plus a decent portion of roasted garlic aioli.
Whilst salt and pepper squid is basically a very simple dish, it is a dish that frequently home cooks get wrong. Mainly we think domestic fryers might not be true to temperature and secondly and most importantly home cooks put too much squid into the fryer at a time. The oil is instantly cooled and the result is soggy rather than crisp. All is explained below.
ANN OLIVER 21 MAY, 2022
The best squid
is the one you catch
200g rice flour
15g fine sea salt
5g freshly and coarsely milled black pepper
1-2g chilli flakes – more if you like it hot
Weigh everything into a bowl and using a whisk mix well.
Always use a small amount of the dust as any remaining dust after frying has to be ditched.
You can always add some very finely sliced fresh chilli [seeds included] and spring onion to the mix.
We do not use Canola oil and prefer corn or safflower oil. Oil is expensive and looking after it Saves money. Always filter your oil after every use. Not in the morning but shortly after it has cooled enough to handle.
Salt and pepper frying is very on demanding on oil. Oil needs to be clean and any sign of foaming it needs to be ditched.
Most commercial kitchens run their fryers at 350°F/175°C but we think that domestic fryers may not be quite true to temperature. If you have a thermometer check the accuracy. We suggest for domestic fryers that 180°C is perfect.
Cooking salt and pepper squid in a domestic fryer Take the squid our of the fridge a couple of hours before you want to eat it. Working in small batches of 30g-40g at a time dip the squid into milk, shake off the excess and then roll through the dust making sure it is well coated.
Fry until golden and crisp 2-3 minutes at the most if your temperature is right. Drain and drain on paper towel.
Keep in a warm place until you have fried all of the squid.
We have found a wooden spoon comes in handy at home to beat of the less patient who want to eat it straight from the fryer.
A good roasted garlic aioli and lime wedges for first preference or lemon wedges.
Dust recipe copyright © with thanks River Torrens Cafè Adelaide 2022
Technique Copyright © Ann Oliver 2022