Chinese Salt and Pepper Squid

This Chinese Salt and Pepper Squid is so quick and easy and makes for a really nice starter though I think it’s best served with drinks. There is minimal chopping and prepping, especially when you taste how flavoursome the end result is! A lot of Chinese food takes little actual cooking time but this takes mere minutes. What probably takes the most time in the whole operation is heating the oil to 180 celsius. This all makes this dish pretty handy for serving to guests as the chopping can be done ahead of time. I’d probably cover the garlic in a little oil to stop it from going black.

I’ve heard that squid either needs to be cooked super hot and fast or really low and slow and that anything in between will give you rubber. I haven’t cooked enough squid to know for sure but deep frying it like this gave me perfectly soft pieces. If you have never used sichuan peppercorns before ,they are a revelation! If you can’t find them, DO NOT substitute them for black peppercorns, or pink. Sichuan peppercorns are actually not in the pepper family and give a really different flavour. It’s described as a numbing heat but it’s also really citrusy and gives a beautiful perfume.

Chinese Salt and Pepper Squid


  • 2 tsp sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 400g cleaned squid
  • 2 tbsp shaoxing wine
  • 1 red chilli, finely sliced
  • 2 spring onions, chopped, whites and greens separated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • cooking oil for deep frying
  • 4 tbsp potato flour (or plain)


  1. Toast the sichuan peppercorns in a hot, dry frying pan for just a minute or two until they become really aromatic. Then grind them with the sea salt fakes in a pestle and mortar until fine.
  2. Open up the squid bodies and score them gently with a sharp knife. Then cut them up into bitesize pieces, transfer them to a bowl, pour over the shaoxing wine and allow to marinade for a few minutes.
  3. Then drain off the shaoxing and add the flour. Toss to make sure the squid is evenly coated.
  4. Heat the oil to 180 degrees celsius. If you don't have a candy thermometer, drop a small cube of bread into the oil when you think it's hot enough. If it is it should go golden brown quickly.
  5. Once the oil is hot enough, drop the squid pieces into it. Stir gently to stop them from sticking and fry for 2-3 minutes or until crisp and golden. Remove them from the oil and let them drain on some kitchen paper. You might need to fry the squid in batches.
  6. Once the squid is fried, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of the hot oil to a wok or large frying pan over a medium heat and then add the chilli, garlic and spring onion whites.
  7. Stir fry for 2 minutes, turn the heat back up to high and add the squid, salt, sichuan peppercorns and spring onion greens.
  8. Stir fry for another minute or two just to coat the squid in the aromatics then transfer to a serving plate and dig in!
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