Ying Tam, chef of Sydney’s Ying’s Seafood Restaurant, graciously shares his signature salt and pepper squid recipe with Food Safari’s Maeve O’Meara. It makes more five-spice mix than you need, but you can store the rest in an airtight container for another day.
1 tbsp celery powder
1 tbsp chicken stock powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp five-spice powder
500 g fresh whole squid
2 tbsp self-raising flour
4 spring onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
½ tbsp rice wine
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Combine the ingredients for the five-spice mix and set aside.
Clean the squid by pulling the tentacles from the body. Wash out the tube and remove the clear ‘backbone’. Peel off the skin if desired. Cut the tentacles from the head and discard the head. Cut the tube into triangles, which helps the squid to curl during cooking.
In a bowl, mix the self-raising flour with 1 tbsp vegetable oil and a little water to make a paste. Add the squid pieces and tentacles and coat well. Sprinkle and toss with enough cornflour until the pieces are dry.
Heat enough vegetable oil in a wok for deep-frying. Add the squid, in batches, and cook until golden and crisp.
Remove with a wire basket or slotted spoon. When all the squid is cooked, drain most of the oil from the wok.
Add the spring onion, garlic and chilli to the wok. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, until aromatic. Return the squid to the wok, add 2–3 tsp five-spice mix and toss well. Add the rice wine, toss and serve immediately.