November 6, 2006

Salt&Pepper __?__

Despite having both Cantonese parents and having eaten Chinese food all my life; I was never acquainted to "Salt and pepper Calamari/Chicken wings" until I walked into my first Cantonese-Chinese restaurant here in Sydney (We call them "hong-kie" Restaurants) *laughs*
I had an unhealthy addiction to this new found Chinese dish piled up with oil drenched deep fried seafood of all sorts laced with large amounts of excessive sodium. *shiver* Not surprising why it's finger licking good. It's unfortunately difficult to run away from; considering how it's spotted in almost every Chinese menu in the City.

I was very fortunate during Diwali a couple of weeks back when I visited Pinky's Aunt and her family in Epping. They had a very talented chef friend who volunteered to cook up a feast for everyone and lucky ol' me got to help out as the little apprentice. *grin* I learnt SO much in 1/2 a day. More than any book could teach me in a week. I would like to thank Mr Barry "good-liver" for teaching me so much about seafood preparation, cleaning, flavoring....and for the many funny and inspiring stories about making THE kitchen, cooking and food a career. *I hope he reads this post one day* Haha.
I'll share a simple trick I learnt that afternoon with everyone. It's great for a quick fix when I crave something "salt-and-pepper" but could do without the excess cholesterol from the Chinese take-away down the street.
Many are probably wondering what's with the question mark __?__ in my post title, well... leaving a blank allows space for creative variations for this salt&pepper mixture. I would toss this seasoning with prawns, squid, calamari, fried chicken, pork nuggets, etc...etc... "sweet things and pastry" should be where that line is drawn. *shudder*

Ratio of 2:1 (Salt:pepper)
coarse grained salt (I used 1 cup)
ground black pepper (I used 1/2 cup)

2-4 star anise (depending on the amount of seasoning made)- I used 2

Pour all ingredients in a large wok and saute on medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until fragrant and salt turns lightly brown(beige). Remove from heat and store in a dry container.
I used my first batch of seasoning on deep fried pork wanton's and the next on calamari.
To make beautifully curled and diagonal diamond designs like in magazines and restaurants, slit the cyclindrical portion of the squids body to create a flat white portion, lay the underside of the body facing upwards on a chopping board and slit straight lines in a 45 degree angle with a small blade gently, be careful not to cut right through. Make strokes diagonally across those lines in the opposite direction. Coat pieces in corn flour and deep fry in hot oil till brown, curled and crisp. Toss fried calamari in coriander leaves, chopped chilli, squeeze of fresh lemon juice and generous dashes of your wonderful salt and pepper seasoning.


Juanita So said...

You beat me!
Was planning to make salt and pepper chicken wings the other day, but the thought of the oil needed made me shiver. Plus my camera's broken, so couldn't take decent photos, hence no update on my food blog.
Btw, was at Kylie's engagement and saw your cake. Was great. =)

QuaVadis said...

salt and pepper that's how we make it..interesting...thanks for sharing

na said...

Salt and pepper calamari is a huge hit here on the Gold Coast atm with summer kicking in; served on a bed of salad. It's mostly served as an entree; but is also generally featured as a main with on premises aioli or tartare sauce (which personally I think is overkill).

I've tried it several times and must say to those who can prepare it properly, its amazing!

Way to go girl! <3