Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid is one of the most popular Chinese-American takeout dishes. But there's one problem with that word "takeout." Fried Squid doesn't survive for even a few minutes trapped inside a takeout box for the trip home. Within seconds steam is created, the worst friend a crispy squid ever had. Our recipe gives you crispy squid hot out of the fryer and on the plate within seconds.
Making Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid at home is easy. It only takes a few ingredients, is inexpensive, and gives the results that far exceed takeout. But you've probably wondered "how did they get it so crisp?" "It's so tender how do they do that?" And, "what is the pepper flavor I taste?" We have the tips, techniques, and steps for you to master this favorite Chinese dish.
We use squid tentacles and rings. Squid are the larger cousins to calamari. You can find both squid and calamari in the frozen section of the supermarket. Whole squid are another option, but you'll need to clean them which takes more time.
The wet and the dry-
Deep-frying is one of those techniques that is frustrating to a lot of home cooks. But don't be afraid, it's simple to master. In Today's Home Kitchen we use different ingredients and techniques depending on the recipe, but one thing remains-the wet and the dry. By that, we mean the wet ingredient to dip the squid in and then the dry ingredient to dredge the squid before going into the fryer.
You might be surprised, but in this recipe, we whip two egg whites until they are light and fluffy. That's our "wet" ingredient. Egg white gives the squid a silky, yet light glossy coating. This means when we fry the squid it will also be light, yet crispy. For the "dry" we use a classic Chinese ingredient. Corn starch. Corn starch is finely ground into a powder. It makes fried foods more crispy than regular flour. In this recipe, we use 1 cup of cornstarch to ¼ cup of all-purpose flour.
Our Secret Cooking Tip-chill the dry mix in the fridge for one hour before frying. Chilling flour, cornstarch or a prepared dry fry mix will make your squid, prawns, chicken,
or any fried food more crispy.
The key seasoning in Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid is more than just salt and black pepper. We also use Szechuan pepper. Known as the "tingling" pepper, Szechuan pepper has a unique aroma of smoke, wood, and exotic scent. It's used whole in many stir-fry dishes where a tingling sensation hits the tip of your tongue. In our recipe, we use ground Szechuan pepper, giving the squid a hint of smokey licorice flavor. Szechuan Pepper can be found in a local Asian store. For convenience, you can order Yimi Szechuan Red Peppercorns.
The right temperature, the right fry-
Deep-frying is very easy. Just the right temperature, oil, and a thermometer is all you need. We use a countertop deep-fryer with a heating control. It allows us to set the temperature low or high depending on what we're deep-frying. We typically use canola or vegetable oils. Both are safe oils to use and have a mild flavor. We tend to stay away from peanut oil because it has a bolder flavor that can mask the flavor of the ingredients. And it's very expensive.
This recipe goes very quick. Just dip the squid in the egg white, the flour mix and into the oil. It only takes about 2 minutes at 350. You'll know when the squid is done when the oil quiets down and doesn't bubble as much. Finally, we never put fried foods on towels to drain. Whatever directly touches the towel will get soggy. So we drain fried foods on a cookie rack over a baking sheet. After just a few seconds, onto the serving dish it goes.
Our recipe also works for frying salt and pepper prawns. Prawns will take longer to fry, about 3-4 minutes, to be done. Serve the Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid with our Tentsuyu Sauce for dipping. You can add a Japanese garnish of pickled ginger and some wasabi. There aren't any rules for what you serve with the squid. Old-fashioned cocktail sauce is just as good. Fried foods need the right side dish with crisp, clean and pickled flavors to balance things out. Try our recipe for Pickled-Daikon Carrot Salad.
Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid
Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid is one of the most popular Chinese-American takeout dishes. Our recipe gives you crispy squid hot out of the fryer and on the plate within seconds.
Squid tentacles and rings, thawed, rinsed
egg whites, beaten
chilled for one hour
chilled for one hour
we go light on the salt, but add more per your tastes
ground Szechuan pepper
- soy sauce for dipping
- Canola oil for frying
Heat the canola oil in a heavy stockpot or deep-fryer to 350. You want enough oil to be about 3-4" deep in the stockpot or fryer.
Dip some of the squid in the beaten egg whites and toss to coat. Then dredge the squid in the dry flour mixture. Add some of the squid to the hot oil and deep-fry, about 1-2 minutes until the squid curls and the oil stops bubbling. (Add just some of the squid at a time). Shake the squid or use chopsticks to keep it moving in the oil.
Drain the squid on a cookie rack over a baking sheet for about 30 seconds, then serve hot with dipping sauce on the side.
We chill the dry ingredients in the fridge for one hour before frying. Chilling the dry and wet ingredients will give you more crispy results.
The recipe works with prawns, just allow more frying time. The prawns are done when they turn pink and the oil stops bubbling, about 3 minutes cooking time.