Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid with a Cucumber Salad

In a land where the food airwaves are dominated by Food Network, one can understandably look elsewhere for inspiration.  Rather than watching shows like Diners Dives and Drive-Ins, Semi-Homemade Meals and What is Brian Boitano Cooking, I find myself watching shows like Hell's Kitchen and MasterChef.  Both of those shows feature Gordon Ramsay, but they reveal very little about his cooking.  I found myself channel surfing again, only to stop at a show called the F-Word

When it comes to Gordon Ramsay, who built his reputation on being a brash, straightforward chef, the "F Word" could have a couple of meanings.  In this case, the "F Word" means food.  What sets the F-Word apart from other Ramsay shows is that the F-Word shows Gordon Ramsay cooking dishes and providing the recipes for the viewers.  One such recipe is Gordon Ramsay's Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid with a Cucumber Salad.

Of course, the recipe comes with that thought of Gordon Ramsay critiquing you from a distance.  As I made this recipe, I thought "what would the Chef say?"  Those thoughts became more and more frequent as it became clear as I struggled with the breading of the calamari.  In the end, I do not think that Chef Ramsey would have approved of the dish because the breading did not adhere to the calamari as much as I think he would expect.  There was still enough breading left that you could taste the peppercorns and Chinese five spice with every bite of the squid.  In any event,  I am not cooking on any of his shows and I have the opportunity to practice the dish before the rather unforeseeable event that I should find myself on one of those programs.

Recipe by Gordon Ramsay
Available at BBC America

Ingredients (for the squid):
3/4 pound squid, both bodies and tentacles
1 tablespoon of Szechuan peppercorns
     (or substitute black peppercorns, with 1/2 teaspoon of red chile flakes)
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
1 tablespoon sea salt
8 tablespoons of corn flour
Vegetable oil for frying

Ingredients (for the salad):
1 cucumber, peeled and shaved into thin ribbons
1 carrot, peeled and shaved into thin ribbons
1 chile, diced finely
1 to 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 pinch of sugar
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup of cilantro leaves
Lime slices, for serving

1.  Prepare the squid. Crush together the peppercorns, chilli flakes and sea salt with a pestle and mortar then mix with the flours. Slit the squid hoods down one side, open out then score the inside lightly in a criss-cross pattern. Cut into bite-size pieces.  Add the squid to the flour and toss to coat the squid as much as possible.

2.  Prepare the salad.  Combine all of the ingredients, mix thoroughly.

3.  Fry the squid.  Fill a large pan or wok 1/3 full with oil. Heat until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Coat the squid pieces in the flour, shaking off the excess, and fry for 1-2 minutes or until golden. Serve with lemon wedges.


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