Cleaned baby squid are widely available at fishmongers and fish counters in supermarkets. Boxes of frozen squid are on sale too, but fresh taste better. Cucumber sambal makes an excellent dipping sauce.
- 14oz (400g) baby squid, cleaned
- ½ tsp Sichuan pepper
- 1 tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup flour vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 2 scallions, finely sliced
- 1 red chile pepper, seeds removed and finely sliced
- 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 limes
- fresh cilantro sprigs
Directions: remove the tentacles from the squid, cut in short lengths if needed, and set aside. Cut along one side of the squid’s body to open it out and score the inside in a diamond pattern, ensuring not to cut all the way through the flesh. Cut the squid into smaller pieces, diamond shapes look best. Dry the squid on paper towels.
Heat a small frying pan and toast the Sichuan pepper for a minute or so, till the aroma rises. Put in a mortar, add the salt, and crush to a powder or use a spice grinder. Stir in just a few grindings of black pepper. Put the flour into a big bowl and stir in the salt and pepper mixture.
Pour oil into a wok or wide pan, enough to cover the squid, and heat it to 350°F (170°C) or till a small piece of bread browns rapidly when added to the oil. Dip the squid in the seasoned flour till evenly coated. Fry, in batches if necessary, till golden-brown. Stir gently or they might stick to the sides or bottom. Lift them out with tongs or a slotted spoon onto paper towels. Drain all but a tablespoon of oil from the wok. Add the scallions, chile peppers, and garlic, and fry. Put in the squid and toss all together. Stir in the soy sauce and a little lime juice. Place the squid onto a serving plate, and serve with just a few cilantro sprigs and wedges of lime.