Salt and pepper chilli squid

Salt and pepper chilli squid

Chinese Unchopped
30 mins
Cooking time
10 mins
Martin Poole

I’ve been trying, testing and tweaking this recipe since my university days – endless hours of deep-frying bits of squid of all shapes and sizes in different batters. I’ve tried making it with egg, without egg, with different flours, in different oils, and yet I ALWAYS come back to the simplest option: no egg, just plenty of seasoned cornflour or potato starch and a clean vat of high-heating oil. The oil must be nice and clean to ensure you get a good golden-brown finish, which is especially important for something as waxy and delicate as squid.


Quantity Ingredient
500g baby squid, cleaned and quills removed, (get your fishmonger to do this for you)
200g cornflour, seasoned with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper
3 garlic cloves
1 fresh red chilli, (or 1 bird’s-eye chilli if you like it hot)
2 spring onions, finely sliced
vegetable oil, for frying
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Wash the squid tubes and slice them open to lay them flat. Run the tip of your knife along the squid pieces in a diagonal criss-cross pattern (this will help the squid curl up nicely when cooking).
  2. Place the squid tubes and tentacles in a mixing bowl and cover with the cornflour, then cover the bowl with a plate or lid. Hold the bowl and lid together firmly and shake to mix well.
  3. After shaking, use your fingers to massage the cornflour into the squid until each piece is separate and is as dry as possible. Add more cornflour if necessary.
  4. Finely chop the garlic and chillies. Finely slice the spring onions.
  5. BUILD YOUR WOK CLOCK: place your squid bowl at 12 o’clock, then arrange the garlic, chilli, salt, pepper and spring onions clockwise around your plate.
  6. Half-fill a large pot, wok or deep-fryer with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C, or until the tip of a wooden chopstick or skewer starts to fizz after a second or so in the oil.
  7. Carefully add the squid pieces and deep-fry for 2–3 minutes or until golden brown. Remove the squid pieces carefully with a slotted spoon and drain well on a plate covered with kitchen paper.
  8. In a separate wok, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over a medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chilli, salt and pepper, then add the squid and toss together a few times. Transfer to a serving plate and scatter over the spring onion to finish. Serve immediately.


  • Make sure you add the squid to the wok immediately as the chillies will kick up a lot of smoke in the pan if you hang around!
School of Wok
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