Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Minimalist Fried Squid

Fried Squid
HAVING ruined many shirts over the years while frying squid, I decided it was time either to A) buy a commercial deep fryer, B) give up or C) figure this thing out. Option A was undesirable and B impossible, which left C. It turned out not to be that difficult once I accepted that my home is not a restaurant.
Squid spatters, but wet squid spatters more than dry, and lots of squid spatters much more than not so much squid. So if you dry the squid compulsively, at least by my noncompulsive standards, and you cook it in small batches, you solve the problem. A deep pan helps.

This is a compromise, clearly: you can't bring a restaurant-size platter of squid to your table, but you can gather your friends in the kitchen and feed them fresh fried squid for 15 to 20 minutes, long enough to produce a few batches and make everyone cry uncle.

In the process of this little bit of testing, I tried innumerable coatings. I have two conclusions to report: If you like cakey batter, make what amounts to a thick pancake batter. If you just want a little bit of crust (this is my preference), dredge lightly in flour; it doesn't get any simpler or better.

Recipe: Fried Squid Time: 30 minutes
Neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, as needed
1 1/2 pounds cleaned squid, sliced into rings, tentacles cut in half lengthwise if large
Salt and ground black pepper
All-purpose flour as needed
3 or 4 jalapeƱos, cut into rings, optional
Lemon wedges for serving.

1. Put 1 1/2 to 2 inches of oil in a deep pan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, spread about 1/4 of the squid at a time on several layers of paper towels and put another couple of layers of towels on top, blotting squid to rid it of as much moisture as possible. Season squid with salt and pepper; put flour in a bowl.

2. When oil is hot, put about 1/4 of the squid in flour, then move it to a sieve over the bowl and shake to remove any excess. Add squid to oil along with some jalapeƱos if you like, adjusting heat as necessary so temperature remains nearly constant. Fry until squid is lightly browned and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Do not overcook. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Start next batch while you eat the first with lemon wedges.

Yield: 4 servings.

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