Szechuan Peppered Calamari (Salt and Pepper Squid)

"This recipe - which works as either a main dish or appetizer - is a result of combining some different "Salt and Pepper Squid" recipes that I hadn’t made before. I was aiming for the taste I’d had in a Seattle sushi place, but didn’t quite achieve it. On the other hand, my husband and I loved these anyhow, so I decided to write up the recipe so that I – and others – can duplicate it in the future. These are as good as any calamari I’ve gotten in restaurants! The first time we made them we gobbled them down so fast that I forgot to take a photo... :)"
photo by I'mPat photo by I'mPat
photo by I'mPat
photo by I'mPat photo by I'mPat
photo by I'mPat photo by I'mPat
photo by I'mPat photo by I'mPat
photo by Julesong photo by Julesong
Ready In:
1 as main dish


  • 12 lb cleaned young squid, body and tentacles separated
  • 1 tablespoon tricolor peppercorns (I prefer the different flavors of the tricolor) or 1/2-3/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 5 -10 szechuan peppercorns (individual Szechuan peppercorns, to taste and depending on the freshness of your peppercorns)
  • 12 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 18 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 14 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 -3 cups vegetable oil or 2 -3 cups peanut oil, for frying
  • chili-garlic sauce, for dipping (or other favorite dipping sauce)


  • If you got whole squid, clean them first: gently pull the head and tentacles away from the body, then pull out the backbone (quill, aka cuttlebone) from inside the body and discard it and the intestines and ink sac; cut the tentacles from the head just below the eyes and discard head; remove membrane/skin from body.
  • (How you cut up the squid at this point is a matter of preference, but here’s how I like it.).
  • Cut the larger tentacles away from the smaller ones, so that you get some single tentacles in the mix.
  • Pull or cut the wings away from the body.
  • Cut the body down the center so that you can open the two sides up flat, then make strips that are between 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide and about 1 to 1 1/2 inch long; you can also cut the body into 1/4-inch wide tubes, if you like.
  • Rinse all the cut pieces, tentacles, and wings well in a sieve, and let drain.
  • In a dry skillet, roast the peppercorns over medium high heat until they begin to smoke; remove from heat, let cool, then use a mortar and pestle or other grinder (I use a coffee grinder) to make into a fine powder.
  • In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt, cayenne, garlic powder, and powdered peppercorns.
  • Add the drained squid pieces, and toss or stir well with your hand to coat them well, shaking off excess.
  • Heat oil in a hot wok or deep heavy pan until very hot (the surface should seem to simmer slightly – you can test it with a single piece to see if it’s not enough), then deep fry the squid in batches for 1 to 2 minutes until tender and beginning to turn golden. Do not overcook or your cooked squid will turn rubbery -- blech.
  • Remove with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels.
  • Serve immediately with dipping sauce – we like garlic chile sauce, but cocktail sauce or aioli is nice, too.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Yesterday we took our new (well second hand upgrade on the old runabout) for a 1/2 day out and well we had to wet a line but no fish but the squid were about and we caught a large and a small one - I used the small one which once cleaned (didn't catch the DH in time while he was cleaning but the tentacles ended up in the bait bucket) so in flaps and hood on the small squid I had just over 4 oz. so I made a half recipe as an entree for the DH and I and we thoroughly enjoyed but both agreed we would try one change and that is to use cornflour/cornstarch for the flour to give a slightly more crispy taste but the flavours were wonderful and the DH and I were both thinking hmmm maybe we should have used the other large squid. We served it very simply with lemon wedges. Thank you Julesong.
  2. Fall is squid jigging season here in the Puget Sound, and our fishing household brings home loads of fresh squid. This is just one of the ways we like to make them. Do try to use Szechuan peppercorns, if you can, because their flavor is so unique and great in this dish. Wonderful flavor!
  3. Excellent calamari. I was sure I had some szechuan peppercorns, but didn't so had to omit those. I used a teaspoon of garlic salt in place of some of the sea salt and garlic powder. Dipped them in sriracha spiked aioli.


  1. Excellent calamari. I was sure I had some szechuan peppercorns, but didn't so had to omit those. I used a teaspoon of garlic salt in place of some of the sea salt and garlic powder. Dipped them in sriracha spiked aioli.


<p>It's simply this: I love to cook! :) <br /><br />I've been hanging out on the internet since the early days and have collected loads of recipes. I've tried to keep the best of them (and often the more unusual) and look forward to sharing them with you, here. <br /><br />I am proud to say that I have several family members who are also on RecipeZaar! <br /><br />My husband, here as <a href=>Steingrim</a>, is an excellent cook. He rarely uses recipes, though, so often after he's made dinner I sit down at the computer and talk him through how he made the dishes so that I can get it down on paper. Some of these recipes are in his account, some of them in mine - he rarely uses his account, though, so we'll probably usually post them to mine in the future. <br /><br />My sister <a href=>Cathy is here as cxstitcher</a> and <a href=>my mom is Juliesmom</a> - say hi to them, eh? <br /><br />Our <a href=>friend Darrell is here as Uncle Dobo</a>, too! I've been typing in his recipes for him and entering them on R'Zaar. We're hoping that his sisters will soon show up with their own accounts, as well. :) <br /><br />I collect cookbooks (to slow myself down I've limited myself to purchasing them at thrift stores, although I occasionally buy an especially good one at full price), and - yes, I admit it - I love FoodTV. My favorite chefs on the Food Network are Alton Brown, Rachel Ray, Mario Batali, and Giada De Laurentiis. I'm not fond over fakey, over-enthusiastic performance chefs... Emeril drives me up the wall. I appreciate honesty. Of non-celebrity chefs, I've gotta say that that the greatest influences on my cooking have been my mother, Julia Child, and my cooking instructor Chef Gabriel Claycamp at Seattle's Culinary Communion. <br /><br />In the last couple of years I've been typing up all the recipes my grandparents and my mother collected over the years, and am posting them here. Some of them are quite nostalgic and are higher in fat and processed ingredients than recipes I normally collect, but it's really neat to see the different kinds of foods they were interested in... to see them either typewritten oh-so-carefully by my grandfather, in my grandmother's spidery handwriting, or - in some cases - written by my mother years ago in fountain pen ink. It's like time travel. <br /><br />Cooking peeve: food/cooking snobbery. <br /><br />Regarding my black and white icon (which may or may not be the one I'm currently using): it the sea-dragon tattoo that is on the inside of my right ankle. It's also my personal logo.</p>
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