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Recipe from: It Rains Fishes, Legends, Traditions and the Joys of Thai Cooking by Kasma Loha-Unchit
Squid fried quickly this way is not crispy and chewy like batter-fried squid you may have had elsewhere. Instead, it is succulent and tender, with a lot of garlic and pepper flavor. It is good as an appetizer, or served with other courses family-style with a hot and sour or sweet and sour sauce.
2 pounds fresh squid
2 to 3 tablespoons nam pla
1 to 2 tablespoons white peppercorns, coursely ground
10 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon tapioca or corn starch
1 tablespoons unbleached white flour
3 to 4 cups peanut oil for deep frying
lettuce leaves to line serving platter
2 small tomatoes, sliced in rounds
Clean and skin the squid, cutting each body tube into 3 to 4 segments, about 1 inch apart. Leave the tentacles whole. Rinse and drain well. With your hand, gently squeeze the squid to remove any remaining pockets of water. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with fish sauce to coat evenly. Set aside. The squid should be at room temperature before frying.
Grind peppercorns in a spice mill or clean coffee grinder and chop the garlic evenly. When ready to cook, heat the oil in a wok. Drain the squid of any excess fish sauce, squeezing lightly with you hand until the pieces aer no longer dripping with liquid. Toss with the coarsely ground pepper, chopped garlic, tapioca (or corn starch) and flour. Use your hand to mix so that you can feel and make sure all the pieces are evenly coated with the flours, white pepper and garlic. The tapioca starch helps some of the garlic and pepper to stick to the squid during frying.
Test to make sure the oil is hot enough by dropping a small piece of garlic in it. It should sizzle and not sink to the bottom before surfacing. It also should not burn in a matter of seconds; reduce the heat if it does. Fry half of the squid pieces at a time. They should sizzle loudly, and the garlic pieces should turn golden in a minute or so. Use a fork or a pair of chopsticks to separate those pieces that are sticking together because of the flour.
Fry only 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon or wire spatula and allow to air drain on a wire basket over a bowl. Use a find wire mesh spatula to remove loose garlic pieces from the oil; allow the oil to reheat before frying the next batch. Cool the fried squid 1 to 2 minutes and serve while warm — topped with the loose garlic pieces — on a platter lined with lettuce and encircled by tomato slices.
Allow oil to cool in the wok, then strain and store in a tight jar for future use. Refrigerate to keep fresh if you will not be using it again for a while. Because the oil picks up a garlicky and peppery flavor, it can be used with good results for stir-frying vegetables or seafood.