Sichuan salt and pepper calamari
Prep time – 15 minutes
Cooking time- 25 minutes
1 Tbsp Sichuan pepper corns
2 Tbsp sea salt flakes
¾ cup plain flour
¾ icy cold cups soda water
1/2 cup corn flour to dust
2 cups canola / vegetable oil
500g calamari hoods, approx. 2, cut into rings
1 lemon, cut into half
lettuce or salad leaves to serve
1 Heat a non stick frypan to medium heat, add Sichuan pepper,salt and cook, stirring often for 7-8 minutes till the peppercorns begin to pop, and become fragment. Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes till cool.
Crush in a mortar and pestle or in a spice ginger. Strain through a fine sieve, so you remove most of the husks.
2 Combine plain flour, and soda water and stir really gently in 3 or 4 swirls with a couple of chopsticks, so the water is incorporated, BUT there is still lumps.
3 Heat oil in a deep medium saucepan over medium high heat till a piece of bread sizzles on contact. Dip each calamari ring into corn flour, shake off excess, then into the batter and slowly lower into the hot oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes in batches, drain on paper towel. Sprinkle with Sichuan salt & pepper while still warm. Serve immediately with a cold beer and lemon half.
Sizzle swap– use sea salt and cracked black pepper if Sichuan pepper is not your thing.
Add your favourite aioli or mayonnaise to this dish. Serve as an entrée for 4 , or as part of a nibble tray for up to 6 people.
Sizzle tip– watch the Sichuan pepper closely, tossing or stirring, so the peppercorns don’t burn. Once it starts to become fragrant, you are nearly there. The salt will become a ‘dirty “colour, this is the colour from the peppercorns. Store in an air tight container for up to 4 weeks. Sprinkle onto roasted chicken or pork fillets. The Sichuan tastes a little lemony and has a distinctive smell.