Vietnamese class with Mark Jensen of Red Lantern. That was truly delicious, so another friend and I booked in for a classic.
The class was full, and our presenter, Julie Ray, funny and energetic. Apart from showing us how to prepare three recipes; Chilli Salt Squid (a.k.a salt & pepper squid), Salt and Pepper Prawns and a rice noodle salad, she gave us a run down on the handling and storage of some of the items of seafood we’d be using.
- Freezer temp should be -18
- Fridge temp should be between 0 and -4
- Prawns should be stored in a bowl or colander on a plate, lightly covered
- Fry up your prawn heads and shells for stock, and add to prepackaged fish stock to liven up the flavour
- Don’t marinate squid in citrus longer than 30 minutes, or it cooks
- To test if your oil is hot enough, dip the end of a wooden spoon into the oil and if it bubbles, it’s ready to go
- Always give the oil time to reheat in between batches
Both recipes use Szechuan peppercorns and good salt as the flavour base (we used pink Murray salt). The principle of both recipes is the same. Dip either prawns or squid in egg white, and then in tapioca starch or corn flour and deep fry. We both came home smelling like the old fashioned fish’n’chip shop.
The highlight for me, however, was preparing the squid from scratch. I’ve always been intimidated by the preparation of fresh seafood. I usually get my fish already filleted, or a whole fish already scaled, and gutted. Squid? Never attempted before. Now there are no photos of this bit as you can imagine, as we were elbow deep in squid goo!
Preparing the squid was relatively simple, once you know how:
- Grab the tentacles and carefully pull out from the squid hood.
- Reach into the squid hood, and pull out the quill (the cartilage type bone that runs the length of the squid hood).
- Then pull off the flappy ear bits on the side of the hood. This allows you to then remove the outer skin.
- Feel inside the squid hood for a ridge. Carefully cut along this ridge.
- With the matte side down, shiny side up, carefully trim the bottom of the squid to square it up(not the pointy end!). Also this edge is apparently quite tough.
- Then using your knife scrape the goo off, taking care to try to take off the membrane.
- With the left over ears, use a chux to rub the skin off, and then once the skin and membrane are removed, trim the tough straight edge off.
- Then with the guts and tentacles, cut just below the eyes and discard everything from the eyes and above.
- Remove the beak from what’s left of the main body. This is a tough little round bit in the centre of the squid.
- Run your hands along the tentacles rubbing bits of grit off, and cut in half lengthways and then cut the tentacles crossways, depending on how long they are
That’s it. Your squid is now ready for whatever you want to do with it…
The recipe for the chilli salt squid is very basic: (all amounts are guesstimates until I put the proper ones in)
- 1 kg Medium sized squid
- Vegetable oil to deep fry
- 2 cups tapioca flour
- 1/4 cup ground chilli
- 1/4 cup of ground salt
- couple of egg whites, lightly beaten
Once you’ve prepared the squid, dip it into the egg whites, and then pop it in a plastic bag with the flour, salt and chilli, and cover in the mix.
Do this in batches. Take it out and shake off the excess before frying in batches.