Salt and Pepper Squid

FOOD SCIENCE : Each food article on this site is coupled with a bit of science,  if you aren’t interested you can skip it and go straight to the recipe below. The information is from various biological sources such as journals and books, but some has been taken directly from gastronomists such as Harold McGee and Herve This who specialise in kitchen science.

SQUID : Squid is a class of mollusc called a cephalopod, this means ‘head-foot’ and is named this way as it literally has its feet (8 arms and 2 long tentacles), coming out of its head. Its muscle texture is more like land animals than fish; Its collagen fibrils (muscle fibers) are very thin (making the flesh dense) and extensively cross linked (making it strong and therefore quite tough).

Squid can be cooked in one of two ways;

  1. a quick and hot cook, (>140c) e.g. frying. This will curl and shrink the flesh as the heat forces out the moisture, to cook squid like this you can score the inside of the body in lines which will help to roll it into a nice tube.
  2. a long slow gentle simmer of an hour or more. This will relax all the collagen into gellatin leaving a totally tender meat.

P1150644aRecipe from : “A Daily Obsession


  • 500g squid
  • 1/2 t salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 t black pepper or Sichuan peppercorn powder
  • 1/8 t cayenne chili or other chili powder (optional)
  • 1/8 t 5-spice powder
  • 1 egg white, whisked
  • 2 dashes of msg
  • 5 T cornflour or riceflour


  1. Clean squid. Score the inner side diagonally with diamond cuts and cut into 6 x 4 cm pieces so they’ll curl when fried. Drain in a colander and dry with paper towels, then add egg white and mix well.
  2. Put 2 cups oil in a wok and heat it up (abut 500ml)
  3. Put remaining seasoning ingredients and flour together in a plastic bag and drop in the squid pieces. Shake well.
  4. Fry the squid pieces a handful at a time in very hot oil, use a slotted spoon to take out after 1 minute. Serve with lemon/lime wedges.

Jason Atherton’s salt and pepper squid

Serves 4 as a starter

400g baby squid, cleaned
½ packet tempura batter
5 heaped tbs plain flour
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
groundnut oil, for deep-frying

to serve:

coarse sea salt, to sprinkle
1 green chili, finely sliced
4 lime wedges

Set aside the squid tentacles and slice the body pouches into rings. Pat the squid dry with kitchen paper. Make the tempura batter according to the packet instructions and set aside. Put the flour into a shallow bowl and season with the salt and pepper. Dip the squid rings in flour, then batter.

Heat the oil in a deep fat fryer or other suitable deep, heavy pan to 180°C. Deep-fry the squid in batches in the hot oil for 1-1½ minutes until lightly golden and crisp. (Make sure you don’t overcrowd the pan or the temperature of the oil will drop.)

Carefully shake off the excess oil, drain on kitchen paper and keep warm while you deep-fry the rest of the squid rings.

Now draw the squid tentacles through the tempura batter and deep-fry these until lightly golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper.

Sprinkle the deep-fried squid rings and tentacles with a little coarse salt. Divide between warm plates and scatter over the sliced chilli. Serve at once, with lime wedges.

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