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  • Writer's pictureChef Dylan

CRISPY LEMON PEPPER SQUID





This easy go-to recipe gives you lovely zesty, lemon pepper, super tender squid with a crispy outer crust, served alongside a simple salad and a creamy mayonnaise dipping sauce.

For this dish I’ve used fresh squid tubes, which you can get from the local seafood market. At the fish market, look for the large white tubes of calamari to begin with, and as you get more confident you can move to the smaller whole squid, which will just take a bit more prep work cleaning them. Squid should be firm to the touch and not slimy, and should smell slightly sweet, with a hint of an ocean summer breeze. However, if you are pressed for time, some supermarkets sell very good quality squid rings in the frozen section; just be on the lookout for signs of freezer burn, which looks like small ice crystals


Did you know? In the Mediterranean there is archaeological evidence that people have been catching cephalopods for culinary purposes for at least 4,000 years. Small clay amphorae were carefully lowered by rope to the ocean floor, by the Egyptians, then subsequently by the Greeks and the Romans, who would then simply wait for an octopus to use it as a den, then haul it up. Octopi were caught with hooks by the early Hawaiians and squid and cuttlefish have been caught using nets all throughout the world for ages, by simply attracting squid at night with light. For millennia, cephalopods have been a staple food in coastal regions all over the world, but are delightfully devoured mostly in Southeast Asia, Southern Europe and Australasia.


Chef Dylan tip: You just have to have a couple of attempts and you will be a master of cooking perfectly tender squid in no time. When cooked, you are looking for an opaque, creamy, milky colour if you slice it. But the best way is to just get the oil to 180°C with a thermometer, place the squid in and just remove it from the oil when it starts to float and looks cooked. Then have a taste test and adjust your cook time accordingly. Cook the squid in small batches so you don’t bring the temperature of the oil down too low, as this will result in soggy or overcooked squid.


Memory Lane, Bondi Beach 2001

I glance down at my watch, which reads 11.45am and breathe a sigh of relief, knowing Chef demands that I be 15 minutes early for my shift. I take one last look at the glorious scene behind me that is Bondi beach.


A sparkling turquoise ocean under a beautifully clear blue sky. Tourists pepper the beach, and looking out to sea, heads are bobbing like buoys as the waves gently roll in.


I turn to peer through the glass door at the front of the restaurant and begin to wave my arms like a madman to catch the eye of Steve, the other second-year apprentice. He notices and waves and then heads through the dining room and unlocks the door to let me in. “Oooooh, just in time mate, Chef just said “Where’s that ferret Dylan?” he says with a cheeky grin as we head into the organised chaos of the professional kitchen.


“Nice of you to grace us with your presence, Dylan” says chef sarcastically – “Now hurry up and get changed, because the owners have decided in their infamous wisdom that we now have the privilege of making a Melbourne Cup Champagne Light Lunch for a bunch of fascinator-wearing, up themselves, rich housewives who we need to feed and impress before we open for dinner.”


I say a quick ‘Hi’ in acknowledgement to the line chefs who promptly ignore me, so I quickly suit up and head to the larder section where Steve and I work.


“Here,” begins Chef, as he pushes a menu into my chest. “Right, listen up. You two clowns are responsible for the cold and hot canapés.” “Look here” he says, now pointing to the function menu – “It’s a walk in the park, most of it is just a twist on the dinner menu anyway.” He changes his voice speed and tone as if reading an order now: “It’s just Oysters three ways: Natural with a Champagne vinaigrette, tempura with caviar and crispy bacon with a Tabasco Kilpatrick sauce. Asian spiced pan-fried prawns, avocado stack and a serve of crispy lemon pepper squid on a bed of rocket and pomegranate. Got it?” “Yes chef!” we say together. Chef adds “Now this flock of mutton dressed as lambs are all friends of the boss, so if you two girls mess any of this up, I swear to God, you both will be on dishes for a week.” “Yes Chef!” we both say affirmingly.


He then carefully removes some sheets of paper from his folder and adds “Here are the recipes; you flips should be able to write a prep list between the both of you yeah?” “Yes, Chef!” Once again in unison. “Good! for Christ’s sake, don’t just stand there like a couple of frozen dorks, get a move on, will ya! First canapé will be sent at 2pm sharp,” he says tapping his watch as he heads down the stairs into the pastry section.


This is a great dish to practice getting good at deep frying and you will be blown away at how good the end result is. Serve this up as a spring starter for a small group of friends or as a light lunch on the weekend to impress a loved one.


PREP TIME: 10mins

COOKING TIME: 10 mins

SERVINGS: 4


INGREDIENTS

  • 600g squid tubes

  • ½ cup (70g) plain flour

  • 3 tablespoon SPARTAN

  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

  • 120g mesclun lettuce

Lemon Mayonnaise

  • 1 cup (300g) whole egg mayonnaise

  • ¼ cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon hot water

  • Sprinkle of SPARTAN (optional)


METHOD

  1. Halve squid tubes lengthways, score the insides in a crosshatch pattern then cut each half lengthways into five equal pieces.

  2. Make lemon mayonnaise by gently folding all ingredients in a small bowl until well combined.

  3. Heat oil in wok or large saucepan. Toss ~10 pieces of squid in a medium bowl with combined flour and SPARTAN until coated; shake off excess

  4. Deep-fry squid, in batches, until tender and browned lightly. Drain on absorbent paper.

  5. Repeat until all squid is cooked.

  6. Place mesclun with about a quarter of the lemon mayonnaise in medium bowl; toss gently to combine.


TO SERVE


Serve squid and mesclun salad with remaining lemon mayonnaise.



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