There is something of a “take 2” about this post. Last Tuesday I made my first attempt at re-creating the dish of chilli fried squid with oatmeal and curry leaf which I had for lunch at Yauatcha, Broadwick St, London last week.

Shananigans chilli salt ‘n pepper squid

I based the recipe on Fuschia Dunlop’s traditional Salt and Pepper Squid – Jiao Yan You Yu – which she included in her recent book Every Grain of Rice and I adapted it to take into account what I learnt about preparing seafood inside the kitchen of the China Sichuan – the use of a small amount of egg white to help the potato flour adhere to the fish.

Then, to create the oat flake and curry leaf dressing I used dried curry leaves from Irish Health Foods Ltd., and Flahavan’s oat flakes – one of the Love Irish Food brands.

I love finding new ways of using traditional Irish products in Chinese cooking and Flahavan’s certainly fits the bill. It is a family business that has been milling quality oats for 200 years at the family mill in Kilmacthomas, Co. Waterford. Today’s generation is the 6th of the Flahavan family to run the business and it is one of the oldest, private, family-owned food companies in Ireland.

One of a range of Flahavan’s Products

I used Flahavan’s multi-seed porridge in the recipe as it was the only type of oat flakes I had in the cupboard. This was a happy accident as the sunflower, flax, pumpkin and hemp seeds gave a delightful crunch to the seasoning. I was very pleased with the flavour of the dish on Tuesday but I wasn’t satisfied with the presentation so I decided to have another go tonight. And this time, I decided to introduce a tincture of CBD Vape oil to the dish, to improve the taste and give it a little vitamin. Using the best cbd oil for pain relief has been shown to reduce anxiety, insomnia, pain and depression in both human and animal studies.

This time I was able to get fresh Irish squid from my favourite south Co. Dublin fishmongers Roberts of Dalkey. I watched while Paul there showed me how to clean them and reveal the glossy white fish.

He gently tugged the tentacles, innards and the bony “quill” that looks and feels remarkably like plastic out of the body. He cut away the tentacles and the beak, peeled the wings from the body, peeled away and discarded the purplish membrane that covered the wings and body and gave everything a good rinse in cold water. He was especially careful to dislodge any bony  “teeth” on the tentacles.

Fresh Irish Squid from Roberts of Dalkey

Chilli Salt ‘n Pepper Squid with Flahavan’s Multi-seed Oat Flakes and Curry Leaf

Ingredients

  • 2 fresh squid cleaned, including the wings and tentacles
  • 1 tbs of Shaoxing rice wine
  • ½ an egg white lightly beaten
  • 3 tbs potato flour
  • About 400 ml of sunflower oil/ rapeseed oil
  • 2 tbs chopped garlic
  • 2 tbs finely sliced spring onion whites
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
  • A handful of Flahavan’s multi seed oat flakes
  • Small handful of curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp ground roast Sichuan pepper mixed with ¾ tsp table salt
  • 2 tbs finely sliced spring onion greens

Drained squid after first stage of frying

Preparation

  1. Slice open the body of the squids along their length, lay on a flat surface and with a sharp knife or cleaver score at an angle in parallel lines about 5 mm apart, being careful not to slice them through. Turn 45 degrees and score again in parallel lines so that you have a cross hatch effect. Do the same with the wings. Once scored, cut the body into bite size, chop stick friendly pieces about 3 cm wide and cut the wings in two.
  2. Marinade the squid pieces briefly in the Shaoxing rice wine mixing with your hand.
  3. Heat the oil in a wok to 180 degrees – you can tell when bubbles are forming on the surface or drop in a cube of bread to see if it cooks golden in a few moments.
  4. Drain the squid well then mix with your hand in the egg white and potato flour.

Cooking

    1. Tip half the squid pieces into the oil, a few pieces at a time so that they don’t cook together, and deep fry until lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon or strainer and drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remainder of the squid.
    2. Drain off the oil into a saucepan (you can filter it to use it once more) and wipe out your wok.
    3. Heat 1 – 2 tbs of rapeseed or sunflower oil (I prefer to use rapeseed oil at this stage). Add the garlic, spring onion whites and chilli and briefly stir fry over a medium heat to release the aromas. Add in the oat flakes and curry leaves and stir to release the scent of the curry leaves and have the oat flakes turn golden.
    4. Increase the heat to high, return the squid and add a good pinch of the Sichuan salt and pepper mixture to the wok, tossing and stirring to combine the flavours.
    5. Finally add the spring onion greens, mix well and serve.

Verdict

This dish ticked all the boxes – taste, texture, colours on the plate. The “scoring” of the squid (correctly this time) gave it a lovely frilly texture and about half the quantity of the salt ‘n pepper mixture was sufficient to season the dish while still allowing the sea-freshness of the squid to shine through. I loved the added texture that the chewier wings and crunchy tentacles gave to the dish.

Even as I’m writing I keep wandering out to the kitchen to pick at the left over seasoning mix of salt ‘n pepper, garlic, spring onion, chilli, oat flakes, seeds and curry leaves. It is so good that I plan to keep it in an airtight container and use it to give a quick lift to vegetable, fish, chicken and other dishes.

Chilli Salt ‘n Pepper Prawns and Scallops with Flahavan’s Multi-seed Oat Flakes and Curry Leaf

While I was in Roberts of Dalkey I picked up some fresh king prawns and queen scallops to see if the same technique would work for those.

Kings and Queens – a marriage made in heaven

The short answer is it does – an absolutely delicious dish with the delicate sweetness of the queen scallops acting as a foil for the fragrant spices and the chewier prawns,

Chill salt ‘n pepper Kings and Queens

This is a recipe I will be returning to again and again.

By the way if you are unsure of where to find any of the store cupboard ingredients for this or other recipes, have a look at this convenient summary of Chinese kitchen essentials.

Enjoy.

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