(THE NEW PAPER) - A simple dish of fried calamari I ate at a seaside restaurant in Johor Baru turned out so addictive, I returned to the restaurant two weeks later to order the same dish in a larger portion.
The crispy calamari is tossed in an aromatic mix of garlic, diced chilli and spring onion.
Prices there are not cheap, but the restaurant, built on wooden stilts, has a rustic kampung ambience that is rather charming - once you get over the pesky flies.
It is a 10-minute drive from the Second Link to the restaurant in Gelang Patah.
But to satisfy my calamari craving without crossing the border, I decided it would be more practical to replicate the dish at home.
Marinating the squid in ground turmeric gives it flavour, helps remove strong fishy odours and gives the squid an attractive yellow hue. Adjust the amount of salt to suit your preference.
Other than the deep-frying process, the recipe is fairly straightforward. The upside is you do not need a passport or to pay toll charges to enjoy delicious crispy calamari.
2 medium-sized squid (280g)
½ tsp ground turmeric
¾ tsp salt
400ml cooking oil for deep-frying
2 Tbs cooking oil for stir-frying
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red finger chilli, finely diced
1 stalk of spring onion, sliced (0.3cm)
1. Remove the skin, beak, backbone and innards of the squid. Clean the squid and cut its body into 2cm-thick rings and the tentacles into 5cm-long pieces.
2. Use kitchen paper to pat-dry the squid. Place the squid in a dish and place in the fridge for an hour to dry.
3. Remove the squid from the fridge. Add the ground turmeric and ¼ tsp salt to the squid. Mix well.
4. Add the cornflour and mix. Ensure each piece of squid is coated in cornflour.
5. Heat the oil for deep-frying in a wok or deep-frying pan over medium heat.
6. Divide the squid in two batches. Gently shake excess flour off each piece of squid before adding it into the hot oil. Fry for one minute.
7. Place fried squid on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil.
8. In another clean wok or frying pan, heat 2 Tbs oil over medium heat.
9. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds, then add the diced chilli and spring onion.
10. Add the fried calamari, season with salt and toss quickly for 30 seconds. Serve immediately.