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On a visit to Portland last year, I took some friends to a local restaurant for a particular dish -- Salt and pepper squid. Served with Sriracha sauce as a condiment, this entrée lives in my mind as an all-time favorite! Sriracha, commonly known as “Rooster Sauce” is made by Huy Fong Foods (Irwindale, California) from fresh red jalapeño chili peppers, sugar, salt, garlic and distilled vinegar.

Salt and pepper squid (Chinese style)

¼ tsp. dried red chili flakes

¾ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. white pepper

1 Tbsp. peanut oil

½ onion, sliced

4 shallots, sliced into thin rings

2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 lb. medium squid

3 Tbsp. cornstarch

3 Tbsp. rice flour

1 c. peanut oil for deep frying

Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

2 limes, halved for garnish

Bottle of Sriracha sauce

Combine dried chili flakes, salt, ground black pepper and ground white pepper, which should be more than enough for this recipe. Use as seasoning throughout the process.

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Slice and chop onion, shallot and garlic. In a wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Stir-fry ½ onion, shallot and garlic until tender crisp. Season to taste with spice blend. Lay down on serving platter to form a bed for the fried squid.

Prepare squid by pulling the head away from the body. Sever and trim tentacles. Reach inside the body sac and pull out the backbone, then clean the quid inside and out, removing any dark skin. Rinse well in cold water. Slice squid into rings and pat them dry with paper towels. Place them in a dish with the tentacles.

Heat oil for deep frying in a wok to 350 degrees.

Add squid to cornstarch and toss well, making sure it is evenly coated. Shake off excess. Let sit for at least 10 minutes, then add squid to rice flour and toss well, making sure it is evenly coated. Shake off excess.

Deep-fry coated squid pieces in batches of 3 to 4 pieces for 45 seconds to 1 minute until rings turn crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle liberally with spice blend.

Place drained squid pieces on the bed of onion, shallot and garlic. Garnish with lime wedges and fresh chopped cilantro. Serve with rice and a bottle of Sriracha sauce.

Pair this with Lucas & Lewellen’s 2016 Santa Barbara County Gewurztraminer. Made from grapes carefully tended in a small section of their Los Alamos vineyard in Santa Barbara County, this gewurztraminer comes from old vines recently grafted to the variety. This vineyard produces grapes with the elegance, balance and intrigue suitable for making this dry, aromatic wine with great depth. This brilliant wine is crisp and delicate emitting distinct aromas of flowers: rose petals, lavender, gardenia, and jasmine. The perfume of this wine is deepened by notes of sandalwood, nutmeg and lemon.


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John David Finley is a freelance writer and author of the cookbook "Sacred Meals from our Family Table," which features Santa Barbara County wines. He can be reached at sacredmeals@comcast.net.