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​Chinese Crispy Fried Salt & Pepper Squid

​Chinese Crispy Fried Salt & Pepper Squid

Posted by Emily on 16th Sep 2023

We've put a fresh twist on the classic dish in Chinese restaurants, making it delightfully light and straightforward to prepare. Toasting the blend of peppercorns is a step you will want to take. Also, seasoning the squid directly, rather than the coating mixture, enhances the flavour in each bite without spoiling your cooking oil.

fresh raw squid

Squid, octopus, and cuttlefish are all cephalopods. Squid is now more plentiful than ever, so why opt for processed versions when you can prepare this delightful dish on-site?

What Is Chinese Salt and Pepper Squid?

Also known as Chinese salt and pepper calamari, this dish features deep-fried, crispy-coated squid seasoned with garlic, chilli, salt, and pepper. It's a staple in Cantonese Chinese restaurants and takeaways across the globe, including the UK.

About the Ingredients


Coming from the cephalopod family, squid might not look appetising but are versatile and available year-round. You can freeze them without losing quality, and their ink can be used for colouring and flavouring pasta. They should be cooked briefly or slow-cooked to avoid a rubbery texture. Choose either fresh squid with an intact ink sac or pre-cleaned squid for convenience.

Alpha Coater

The Ceres Alpha Coater offers a neutral spice level that complements rather than overpowers your food, is high in amylose for that desired crispy texture and is allergen-free. Made in the UK, it's versatile enough for various meats and seafood.


Basic ingredients include fine salt, freshly ground black or white pepper, fried garlic, and fresh or dried chillies. Optional extras are Chinese five-spice, Sichuan peppercorns, and MSG.

Shaoxing Wine

This rice-cooking wine removes the fishy smell from seafood and adds flavour.

fried squid rings

Why This Recipe Is a Winner

  • Easy to make
  • Tastes superior to the frozen variety
  • More cost-effective than frozen versions
  • Customisable flavours

What You Will Need For The Squid & Marinade

Sea Salt1/2 teaspoon
Black Pepper1/2 teaspoon
Shaoxing Wine1 tablespoon
Alpha Coater
3 tablespoons (and as needed for coating)

What You Will Need For The Stir Fried Topping

Sichuan Peppercorns3 tablespoon
Garlic Cloves9
Spring Onions9
Groundnut Oil5 tablespoons
Green & Red Chillies10
Salt 1/2 teaspoon 
Black Pepper1/2 teaspoon

Cleaning Squid

Wear gloves and gently twist to remove the head and innards. Discard or use the head as you wish. Remove the transparent cuttlebone and membrane, then rinse the squid under cold water. Pat dry before slicing.


  1. Prepare the Squid: Pat dry the cleaned squid and cut it into half-inch rings.
  2. Season: Mix the squid rings with salt, pepper, and Shaoxing Wine. Add egg and a tablespoon of Alpha Coater. Mix until it becomes thick and sticky.
  3. Coat: Dredge the rings in Alpha Coater. Shake off excess and set aside.
  4. Fry: Deep-fry the rings in hot oil at 180°C for 2-3 minutes until golden and crisp. Drain on kitchen paper or a wire rack.
  5. Serve or Top: You can serve after frying with a nice dip; you could drizzle with some Sriracha Mayonnaise or serve with a Sweet Chilli Sauce, or if you fancy topping with some chillies, see below.

Topping and Serving

  1. Heat a wok or pan over medium heat, add a tablespoon of oil - and stir-fry garlic, followed by minced chillies and crushed Sichuan peppercorns, until fragrant.
  2. Add the fried squid, season with salt and pepper, and toss well.
  3. Finish with chopped spring onions and serve immediately.