01 Sep2009


It couldn’t be easier than this. Regulars on this blog know I am not fond of deep frying, or even frying at all. So I decided to baptize one of the new woks by making some deep fried salt and pepper squid. Go figure. I didn’t even have time to look up a recipe, so I improvised and it turned out far better than I would have expected. First, we cleaned up all of the tentacles from a kilo worth of small squid. Then I cut up some bodies of squid into small rings. These were then thoroughly dried with paper towels…


Into a mortar, I added a tablespoon or so of good black peppercorns and a tablespoon of kosher salt. I crushed this with the pestle and kept grinding it until I had a nice fine salty/peppery powder. I mixed this peppery mixture into about 1/2 cup of cornstarch (could use flour or even rice flour) and dredged the squid pieces, shaking off the excess starch. Meanwhile, I placed several cups of oil into a wok and heated that up.


Using long chopsticks, I lowered some of the battered squid into the hot oil and watched as it almost instantly tensed up and the cornstarch turned into a crisp and crunchy coating on the curly tentacles of the squid. After it slightly browned, we removed the fried salt & pepper squid and served it with some lemon wedges. A nice sprinkling of vinegar would have been delicious as well. Surprisingly, frying in a wok seems less daunting than frying in a more traditional straight sided pan. There weren’t as many splatters, and as long as you don’t overcrowd the pan, the temperature of the fat remains pretty high.


The results, while a bit too peppery for some, were delicious. It took just a minute or less in the fat to get a nice crisp exterior and still moist and chewy interior. Yum!

Note: Photos of squid frying in fat taken by Mrs. MM.



  1. Mari says:

    That looks really good. Wish I can have some right now…been craving for some calamari for quite some time now. Drool, drool, drool. MM, it’s not fair!

    Sep 1, 2009 | 11:18 am


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  3. Ariel says:

    With an almost frozen San Miguel Pale Pilsen that would be an excellent pulutan. That’s a real good idea with the burner. We usually use the side burner of the gas barbecue and cook seafood outside the house.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 11:25 am

  4. mdg says:

    working with your new wok seems exciting!!! we will sure be expecting a lot from the wok…lol

    the squid heads looks very crispy…a lil spice seems great also

    Sep 1, 2009 | 11:26 am

  5. betty q, says:

    …with a hint of 5 spice added to seasoned salt and sprinkled over the hot calamari!

    ….or spicy garlic/shallot with minced sweet peppers sprinkled over the hot calamari!


    Sep 1, 2009 | 11:34 am

  6. natie says:

    here we go! happy ‘wokking’, MM!!

    Sep 1, 2009 | 11:50 am

  7. pegi says:

    Thanks, MM! Nagutom tuloy ako,it’s my favorite appetizer!

    Sep 1, 2009 | 12:06 pm

  8. Cris Jose says:

    Looks yummy!!!(nakakagutom naman…)

    As for your previous posts…At last a feature on woks!!! I’ve been drooling over woks yesterday… but the ones I was looking at were either non-stick or stainless.

    Which one do you think is the best MM? Non-stick, stainless or cast iron?


    Sep 1, 2009 | 12:08 pm

  9. Susan says:

    Your post on woks makes me really really want to get one! Wish we could get one here in Manila. :-(

    Sep 1, 2009 | 12:39 pm

  10. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    WOW!!! that was so fast….it seems like you didn’t “WOK” up a sweat at all!!!!….hehehehe….sorry for the pun..couldn’t help it

    Sep 1, 2009 | 12:44 pm

  11. Mom-Friday says:

    I love salt/pepper squid! how about making Crispy Salted Crabs on your new wok :D also same question as Cris Jose, non-stick, stainless or cast iron? i’m planning to scout for a good wok soon. thanks!

    Sep 1, 2009 | 12:45 pm

  12. marcial bonifacio says:

    calamari and frozen redhorse…Priceless..

    Sep 1, 2009 | 1:01 pm

  13. betty q, says:

    Mom-Friday: given your three choices up above..I agree with Doc Connie. Non-stick surface…not a good thing! Not suited for high temp. which is essential is wokking!

    Stainless:not ordinarily offered at Chinese Wok Shops! Carbon steel or cast iron…much preferred though the hand hammered ones tops the list if you can find them.

    BTW…the older, the blacker…the better! So, to save time on seasoning, keep an eye out as I have said in the previous post at garage sales, second hand shops or auctions (restaurant closures andtheir inventory is up for auction) for a well cared for wok… If you see a blackened one, grab it…it already has that WOK HAY smell!

    Sep 1, 2009 | 1:04 pm

  14. APM says:

    Hi Market man

    I tend to use potato starch and an egg white for the coating. I also tend to season after deep frying with a combination of salt, white pepper, and five spice powder.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 1:51 pm

  15. Anna Banana says:

    Salt and Pepper squid is my favorite ulam in the world!

    I used to try this sa house but could not get that tang that Chinese resto’s salt and pepper squid has. So I looked up and found that the “pepper” in chinese salt and pepper is not the black pepper that we use but the Sichuan red pepper. Tastes yummier with it, and we also add a dash of five spice for added zing. Yum~

    I came across a Tefal Wok in Korea, was a sucker and bought one. Haven’t actually used it but I got sad reading through betty q’s post about non-stick surfaces being a no-no. :( I guess it’ll do for stir frying na lang. Will be on hunt for my very own heavy duty wok na rin.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 1:54 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    APM, thanks for the tips, I did find the cornstarch a bit too starchy, was going to try rice flour next, but maybe the potato flour would be a good alternative… :) According to the book I am reading, the only choice is between cast iron and carbon steel. It does not recommend non-stick or stainless…

    Sep 1, 2009 | 1:54 pm

  17. millet says:

    great “inaugural” dish! that’s a good portent of things to come :-)

    Sep 1, 2009 | 2:01 pm

  18. Cris Jose says:

    Thanks, MM, so cast iron or carbon steel it shall be… thanks ms. betty q.. although I doubt it if I can find woks from garage sales here(except nga siguro kung restaurants and mag-garage sale)… alam mo naman ang mga Pinoy… hindi bibitawan ang gamit until it’s totally useless na… :)

    What’s next? Cooking in a tagine?

    Sep 1, 2009 | 2:18 pm

  19. betty q, says:

    You can also vary the spices…a hint of garam masala (homemade version is better) and served with mayo with mango chutney is one of the few variations I make as an appy if friends are sawa of the regular ones. Like Apm…drench with eggwhite (beaten first) and dust with the starch (seasoned). Try this proportion of dusting flour. 1 cup cornstarch (or if you want to use potato) to 1 3/4 cup flour.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 2:23 pm

  20. Lou says:

    Sarap pampulutan MM!

    Sep 1, 2009 | 3:02 pm

  21. JORP says:

    yummmy. it always reminds me of WAH YUEN in escolta. i really love their salt and pepper squid

    Sep 1, 2009 | 3:12 pm

  22. VickieB says:

    Yum! Speaking of seasoning, how do you season a cast-iron skillet? I always have to wipe it down with some oil before storing–otherwise they develop a film of rust on the surface

    Sep 1, 2009 | 3:28 pm

  23. Marketman says:

    Cris, I have dishes in a tagine in the archives. :) VickieB, for cast iron lodge pans, I coat in oil lightly and put in hot oven for a couple of hours. After each use, I make sure it is clean and dry and put away in cupboards. Frequent use is the best way to keep it well seasoned.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 4:21 pm

  24. Cris Jose says:

    Got this in About.com…

    Question: How Do You Season or Cure Cast Iron Fry Pans or Skillets?
    Uncoated cast iron skillets or fry pans must be cured or seasoned before you can use them – what is this process, and do the words ‘curing’ and ‘seasoning’ mean the same thing?
    Answer: Cast iron cookware should be cured, inside and out including lids, if the pan is new and has not been pre-cured by the manufacturer, or if your pan is old, and the seasoning has worn off.

    Many manufacturers are now marketing pans that have been pre-seasoned. In this case, the curing process has been done for you, but read the product manual carefully to see if there are any initial washing instructions to follow.

    The words ‘curing’ and ‘seasoning’ both refer to the process of coating your pan with grease and oven-cooking it, which fills the pores of the cast iron, and renders your pan with a natural, nonstick-type of coating.

    To maintain the curing on your pan, you should only rinse or quickly wash with mild soapy water after each use. Too much scrubbing and hot water will remove the curing, and the pan will require a re-seasoning. It is normal for your pan to require a re-seasoning occasionally.

    Curing/Seasoning Process
    • Prepare your pan by scrubbing it with hot soapy water, ensuring there is no food residue or rust, and dry it completely.
    • Warm the pan up slightly, and apply a coat of melted shortening to the inside and outside. Liquid cooking oils are not recommended.
    • Preheat your oven to 350F degrees and put your cookware in upside right, on a foil-covered cooking sheet, to catch any drips. If you use a non-covered baking sheet, it will require a good scrub afterwards – the foil saves on the cleanup.
    • Bake for approximately 20 minutes. If it starts to smoke, reduce the temperature by 10-15 degrees until it stops. This may increase the time by a few minutes, but will not hurt the cure.
    • Drain off any excess grease, and put the pan back in the oven, this time upside down, for 1 to 3 hours. A re-seasoning may only require half of that time.
    • Turn the oven off, and let the pan cool down naturally before removing it.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 4:23 pm

  25. Cris Jose says:

    Thanks MM… I belong to the 11-30% category of your readership… have not gone over your tagine post yet. :)

    Sep 1, 2009 | 4:26 pm

  26. Marketman says:

    Cris, thanks for the info, but remember that chinese cast iron woks are not the asian equivalent of the lodge type american cast iron pots. So seasoning is done in a different manner… Here is a much earlier post on pots and pans in general in use in our kitchens… :)

    Sep 1, 2009 | 4:26 pm

  27. Gener says:

    I promise to GOD! This MM site makes me FAT! eversince that i read a new MM menu here,It is forcing me to immitate it as far as my taste bud can reach! My wife is wondering where did i got this new ideas! she dont knows that its all from MMs site….Now my problem is,,,Where the hell i can find this WOK-pan???

    Sep 1, 2009 | 4:35 pm

  28. Jun b says:

    Hi MM, Have you tried the sweet crispy cumi-cumi? a crispy whole fried squid with kecap manis and a bit of chili. I suspect that they deep fried a regular size squid till it look like a baby squid then mix in a kecap manis sauce with some chilli.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 6:00 pm

  29. Maricel says:

    I pour boiling water on the squid bodies and stir just until they form o’s (takes only a few seconds), drain and cool quickly. It is easier to bread when the insides do not stick together.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 6:26 pm

  30. sister says:

    Did you leave behind the giant iron wok that was used to fry donoughts at the old bakery? Now that was seasoned…

    Sep 1, 2009 | 7:12 pm

  31. Marketman says:

    sister, one or two of them saved, but after 30+ years of non-use, already seriously rusting/rusted… :(

    Sep 1, 2009 | 7:39 pm

  32. F1foodie says:

    Excellent choice for your first use, MM. It’s supposed to really help fill the “pores” of new woks.

    Since you’re trying out starches, how about Tapioca Flour? It’s always produced a really crispy exterior for our squids, chicken, clams, shrimps & veggies. Toss in this flour just before frying.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 10:02 pm

  33. Mary Kim says:

    I got one of those things advertised on TV. It’s a big wok with a matching dome cover which has valves for heat release. It’s too bulky it would be on my stove top forever, a Chinese Wok is a lot better, it’s lightweight and worry free with the scratchy coats.:)

    Sep 1, 2009 | 10:14 pm

  34. risa says:

    Betty q., I was finishing MM’s post when I thought:
    1. this would be good with some 5 spice powder; and
    2. betty q. would surely mention it if she’s read this post.

    Hahaha. Five spice is really good. It has an elusive, can’t-put-your-finger-on-it-taste-basta-masarap!

    Sep 1, 2009 | 10:38 pm

  35. betty q. says:


    You have to try it on fried Chicken and the seasoned coating mix for Spicy Deep Fried Crab!

    BTW…MM…with all these wokking dishes esp the Cantonese ones using megA OIL for deep frying…DRINK JUGS AND JUGS of CHINESE TEA! Ever wondered why there’s not a whole lot of Chinese who are overweight? … CHINESE TEA I think has somethng to do with it.

    BTW, MM….My hubby is close to banning me from visiting your site. He said… I am an accesssory to people’s obesity (mine and others!)and should be sentenced. He told me to visit Weight Watcher’s site instead!!!

    Sep 1, 2009 | 11:22 pm

  36. THELMA says:


    Sep 1, 2009 | 11:31 pm

  37. faith says:

    Waahhh! This is torture. I love squid dishes. Must try this out myself.

    Sep 1, 2009 | 11:38 pm

  38. eej says:

    MM, any stir fry dishes in the works? I can only imagine the number of things you can make in that wok. Happy wok-ing!

    Sep 2, 2009 | 12:47 am

  39. kim says:

    oh my …. couldnt wait for my 15min break to read this post, my favorite calamari !!! too bad i dont have a wok, i simply rely on a portable frying pan :'( the works of a busy mom :'(

    MM, isnt it hard cooking w/ a chopstick ? i use a strainer for easy cooking esp when deep frying …

    betty q, that it sooooo funny ! weight watcher site, huh ? pls tell hubby that its a boring site … ika nga ng hubby kong matakaw, live life to the fullest : )

    Sep 2, 2009 | 1:55 am

  40. bagito says:

    betty q, tell your hubby life’s too short. i’ve done weight watchers before pero mas masaya kumain. hehehe.

    Sep 2, 2009 | 3:12 am

  41. bagito says:

    it just occurred to me, baliktarin mo WW=MM. ;-)

    Sep 2, 2009 | 3:13 am

  42. betty q. says:

    Bagito…hahahaha! Maraming Salamat for pointing that out to me WW…I can tell him I am visiting WW site!

    Sep 2, 2009 | 4:16 am

  43. Upstate New Yorker says:

    MM, have you tried using panko (Japanese bread flakes) before? It is so much lighter and crunchier. I wouldn’t mind using cornstarch, but I tend to like using panko a lot. I thought you are a picky eater, I didn’t realize you like seafood with tentacles. Good for you!

    Sep 2, 2009 | 5:33 am

  44. zena says:

    I love salt and pepper squid with Szechuan pepper. Never bothered to make it at home though coz I just don’t like frying in general. It is indeed a perfect pulutan with a cold SMB. Then follow it up with fried chili ribs. =)

    Sep 2, 2009 | 8:12 am

  45. VickieB says:

    MM and Cris, thanks for the suggestions :-) I love using the lodge cast iron pans but they’re just so difficult to maintain!

    Sep 2, 2009 | 9:30 am

  46. joyce says:

    ang sarap! :p i imagine would be nice with homemade mayo dip or kewpie as well

    Sep 2, 2009 | 9:53 am

  47. Marketman says:

    Upstte, yes, I have tried panko, but not on squid. Vickie, if you use your pans a lot, they don’t need much maintenance. bettyq, be careful, or your husband will sequester your computer and reduce internet access rights…hahaha!

    Sep 2, 2009 | 9:59 am

  48. Hershey says:

    MM, that looks really nice. This might help your squid to taste more chinesy like the ones in the chinese restaurants. Add some five spice powder, celery seed powder and some chicken powder to your seasoning and you’ll get that chinese restaurant taste of the salt and pepper squid :D

    Sep 2, 2009 | 12:06 pm

  49. Mom-Friday says:

    thanks for the tip on the type of Wok — will look for one I can afford :)

    Sep 3, 2009 | 4:27 pm

  50. Obra says:

    My favorite salt and pepper squid dish is the one they have at North Park. Anyone have an idea of how they season it? By the way, getting the squid soft is one of the secrets of this dish. For that one should avoid crowding the wok to maintain the high heat and avoid cooking the squid for much longer than 2 minutes. Some preparatory things one can do ahead of time to soften the squid is to soak the squid in milk or buttermilk overnight or alternatively pound it with a mallet. Chilling the squid in the refrigerator or using ice cold water in the batter before frying is also a detail often cited in the proper frying of Japanese tempura.

    Sep 4, 2009 | 7:20 pm


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