Salt & pepper squid
There is always a huge disparity between dishes us chefs think of being our best and the dishes that the people (you) like the most. This for years has driven me up the effing wall but as I get older I say give the people what they want, unless what they want is genocide, in which case I say give them a cup of tea (that always sorts it). In 2001 I came up with a salt and pepper squid dish, now before you all get on your high horses, I realize I didn’t create the concept of s&p squid any more then I created the running man (although in both cases my interpretation is what sets me apart) my dish was…
‘Salt and Pepper Squid on a watermelon chilli and mint salad served with a ponzu and aioli’
This dish turned out to be so god damn popular I haven’t taken it off any menu I’ve written ever since, now I assure you there are many times I’ve wanted too and the hatred I’ve felt for this dish has been real and intense. But at the end of the day it is delicious and it has a pretty decent food cost so its made me some coin along the way.
Now a days you see S&P squid on every second menu you see, but most are shit and taste like rubbery pigs ears tossed in salt, now unless that’s what you want from your experience I will teach you a trick or two to make sure you get tender squid every time.
Now I hear you ask what is the difference between calamari and squid? Well I always thought that calamari was Italian for rings so in turn if you cut the tubes into rings then it was calamari…. I’ve since found out that I made this up and it is what we call in the industry… Bollocks!
Many chefs will tell you the only way to insure tender squid is to buy fresh… well I think the statement “the only way” is farcical and should only be used when speaking of the use of wheelbarrows…
“As I believe quite strongly that THE ONLY WAY to use a wheelbarrow is to pick up the handles and push”
Everything else in this world quite obviously has many ways in which to go about it… especially in the tenderization of squid like animals (is a squid an animal? Are fish animals? Holy shit I’ve just realized I learned nothing at school at all!!!!)
Back to what I’ve learned all by myself with no help from my Mrs Edwards my home ek teacher (home ek, I know I’m not spelling that right, but just can’t work it out, I mean cooking you do at high school)
I use frozen squid as its already cleaned, cheap and easily accessible, once I’ve defrosted it I slice it in two length ways (from top to bottom) then I score it on the inside… this does not mean I examine it closely and mark its quality out of ten, it means to cut groves in the flesh making sure not to go all the way through, you cut the grooves/slices about 3mm apart all along the inside of the tube then repeat on the same side but on a 45degree angle forming a nice kris-cross pattern… this performs several tasks, its allows the squid to cook quicker, it makes it look smarter/sexier, and obviously it goes without saying that kris cross will make you jump.
Now comes the science part of the process, so if you have a white lab coat whack that mother fucker on, as shit is gonna get all Dr Karl on your arse…
1. Fact 1 tropical fruit like kiwi and papaya have black seeds that contain enzymes that break down proteins
2. Fact 2 seafood and meat contain protein
3. Fact 3 I now think there was no need for the numbers written before the facts…
4. Fact 4 when I say fact I really mean assumption
So if you are clever then you would of stopped reading this post on line two, so I will assume that you are not clever and need me to continue with my explanation…
• For 1 kg of squid grab 4 kiwi fruit and take the skin off (this can be done with a spoon or knife, I prefer the combo)
• Simply mash the fruit up with your hands and rub into the scored squid tubes
• Leave for 4 hours
• Wash off very carefully
• Dry the tubes and cut each half into 6 pieces unless they are huge then maybe 8’s or maybe they are tiny then into 4’s (I use U5 this is squid size, feel free to ask for this size)
The tenderizing power of the kiwi is such, that if you where to leave the fruit on squid over night then it would just be a bucket of white mush, so be careful to set a timer and stick to it… you want it to be tender not so soft it resembles the texture of pre chewed macca’s!!
Now you have you tender squid ready for frying, I use a flour mix that is made up of …
1. Plain flour
2. Paprika (sweet not smoked)
3. White pepper
5. Sechuan pepper
And I just add quantities according to how it tastes and what colour I want to achieve, just add little of each to the flour and keep dipping your finger in and trying until you achieve what you think tastes good.
Now in a hot deep fryer or a large pot filled with hot oil, fry you squid that is tossed in the flour mix for a few seconds until it is crispy and has colour… then drain and if need be sprinkle a little extra salt on it.
So at this point you have created super tasty crispy S&P squid or as the Germans would say “uber tasty crispy S&P squid” and you can go off and serve this to your hearts content with whatever you want too… but I like to serve mine with watermelon, chilli and mint salad, why you ask? Fuck knows but I do …
Here’s how to make said salad…
1. Chop up watermelon into 1.5cm cubes (half a small watermelon)
2. Finely slice mint (1 cup full of leaves)
3. Finely chop chilli (as many as you want, 2 long red)
4. 2 tablespoons of chilli jam (we have given you recipes before, if we haven’t then google that shit you’re already on the internet so don’t tell me your problems)
5. Mix all together
That’s it pretty effing simple if I do say so my self… now I know my dish is served with ponzu and aioli but I can’t be fucked writing out recipes for them today but if you get stuck see point number four of the watermelon salad.
Hope this is a success and the dish then haunts you for life as It has for me, and for those still reading all the way to the end… I thank you