Cleaning squid can be unpleasant, with surprising revelations about their last meal – sometimes you find fish inside that completely fill the body and you can only marvel at how they were swallowed.
One of the nice things about this dish is the contrast between the texture of the meaty bodies and that of the crisp fried tentacles. If you can’t get shallots, just use onions in the same way.
Prepare the squid as described opposite.
Sweat the shallots in the corn or groundnut oil until soft, turn up the heat and fry, stirring, until browned and starting to crisp.
Stir in the garlic and half the diced chillies. Cook for 30 seconds, stir and leave in the pan to keep warm.
Heat the oil for deep-frying to 190°C/375°F.
Slice the squid flesh into strips. Heat a heavy frying pan until smoking hot. Season the squid strips with salt and pepper, toss into the pan and sauté. They will start to become opaque and curl. After about 30–45 seconds, the strips will have curled up and be cooked. As soon as this happens, transfer them to a warmed plate – cook any longer and they will toughen up and go rubbery. Scatter over the crisp shallots.
Toss the squid tentacles in the seasoned flour (if any are large, first cut them in half or into four lengthwise), then deep-fry for 60 seconds only. Drain well and distribute between the plates.
Finish by scattering over the remaining chilli and whole coriander leaves.
© 1998 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.