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Fried squid with Asian pesto

Published on August 30, 2016
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Neil Haydock, executive chef at Zacry’s at Watergate Bay Hotel in Cornwall, reinvents classic calamari with this Asian inspired squid recipe

Chilli squid

Serves 2 as a starter

You will need

For the Asian pesto:

Blanched unsalted peanuts 100g
Coriander 50g
Flat leaf parsley 50g
Mint 50g
Garlic clove 1, finely chopped
Ginger 1 thumb size piece, finely chopped
Peanut oil
Lime 1
Fish sauce
Palm sugar to taste
Red chilli 1, deseeded and finely diced

For the squid:
Oil 2l
Custard powder 100g
Chilli powder 5g
Star anise powder a pinch
Dried thyme a pinch
Sea salt a pinch
Fresh squid 1 kg, cleaned


  1. For the pesto: roast the peanuts in a hot oven until golden and allow to cool.
  2. Place the nuts, herbs, garlic and ginger into a blender and blitz to a paste. Add the oil until a pesto-like consistency, then season with lime, fish sauce and palm sugar to taste. Mix in the diced chilli.
  3. For the squid: heat the oil to 180°C in a fryer or large pan.
  4. Combine the custard powder, spices, thyme and salt. Open up the squid tubes and lightly score the inside with a knife and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Toss the tentacles in the spice mix and shake off any excess.
  6. Fry for around thirty seconds and place onto a tray containing kitchen paper to drain any excess oil. Repeat the process with the squid tubes.
  7. Place the pesto onto the plates and top with the squid. Serve immediately.

Chef’s tip: ‘We use custard powder to give the squid a light crust that cooks in the short time needed to cook squid perfectly. The golden colour comes from the milk powder in the custard,’ says Neil.

Also try


'The word succotash comes from an extinct language spoken by Native Americans meaning crushed corn,' explains chef Neil Haydock

Chilli squid

Tom Brown, head chef at Outlaw's, shares his fabulous Asian inspired chilli squid with peanut salad recipe

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‘This goes down a storm at Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, and we add purple sprouting broccoli in season,’ says James Lean