The recent hullabaloo around fake calamari made me hungry, so I resolved to work out my own make-at-home method for Chinese Salt and Pepper Squid. Here is what I came up with. Serves 4 as an appetizer, or 2 as a main dish.
1 lb squid
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c cornstarch
1 t ground pepper
1 t kosher salt
2 green onions, cut into rings
Lemon wedges, for garnish (optional)
1 large or two small hot peppers (I used a fat jalapeño), cut into rings
oil for deep frying
Method: If necessary, clean the squid: pull out the piece of cartilage inside and squeeze out the guts; cut off the tentacles and remove the beak in the center; rub off any mottled outer skin with your fingernail; wash thoroughly. Cut the squid into rings. Dry with a paper towel as best you can then mix it with the beaten egg. Heat the oil to 375 degrees. Dip the squid pieces (rings and tentacles) in the flour/cornstarch mix and fry them a few pieces at a time, transferring them to a warm oven batch by batch. It should take less than 2 minutes per batch to turn them golden brown. When the squid is done, place the green onion and pepper rings in a slotted spoon or Chinese strainer; carefully lower into the hot oil and fry for 30 seconds. Mix with the fried squid and serve.
About the “is it really pig rectum being passed off as calamari” angle, I’m not buying it and suspect it’s an urban myth. Reason: why bother? Pig bung (that’s what it’s called, “bung” in Chinese as well as English) like most offal is probably more expensive than squid these days or at least comparable in price. If you want to be sure, note that calamari has a little ridge on the inside of the ring which I’m guessing rectum lacks. Bon appetite!