Salt and Pepper Squid | Calamari | Deep Fried | Asian | Chinese | Seafood | Appetizer | Restaurant Style | Basil | Recipe

Salt and Pepper Squid

  • Author: Ella
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Chinese


Discover the secrets of cooking crunchy, crispy restaurant-style Salt and Pepper Squid in your own kitchen!

Replace the all-purpose flour with cornstarch for a gluten-free version.

This recipe yields 4 servings for an appetizer. However, my husband and I devoured everything in one sitting, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you finish it all by yourself.


  • 1 and 1/2 pounds baby squid
  • 6 cups vegetable oil
  • (Optional) 1 batch basil for garnish
  • (Optional) 4 to 5 Thai chili peppers for garnish


  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry, or Japanese sake)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced


  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (*footnote 1)
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

Serving options

  • Lemon wedges
  • Mayonnaise, ketchup, Sriracha hot sauce, wasabi mayo, or mustard as dipping sauce


  1. Rinse squid with running water and drain. Slice the cap into 1/3-inch (1 cm) rings and leave the tentacles in one piece. If you use larger squid, you can slice the tentacles into 2-inch (4 cm) bite size pieces.
  2. Transfer everything into a big bowl and add marinate ingredients. Mix thoroughly by hand. Mariante in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to up to 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile mix all the ingredients for the dry coating in a big bowl.
  4. When you’re ready to cook, add 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7 cm) oil in a medium-size deep pot. Heat over medium-high heat until the oil reaches 375 to 400 degrees F (190 to 200°C). If you do not have a thermometer, place a clean bamboo chopstick into the oil. You should see small bubbles rapidly form around the chopstick. Turn to medium heat.
  5. While heating up the oil, set up the deep fry station by placing a large wire rack on a big tray. Or you can use a few plates instead. (*Footnote 2)
  6. Drain the squid and discard the liquid. Transfer half of the coating and a half of the squid into a large ziplock bag. Shake and the bag to coat the squid well. Then transfer everything into a big bowl.
  7. Separate the squid pieces and place them on a large spider sieve or slotted spoon. Lower into the hot oil. Add in small batches at a time so your pot won’t become crowded. Fry until the squid turns golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to the prepared wire rack. Continue to cook the remaining batches using the same method.
  8. (Optional) If you want to present the dish like in a restaurant, fry basil leaves and chili peppers for garnish. Dry them thoroughly and lower them into the oil using a sieve. This step might cause splatter since the basil contains a lot of liquid. Fry for 30 seconds, or until the basil leaves turn dark and crispy. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  9. Serve the squid hot with lemon wedges on the side. You can also serve sauces such as mayonnaise, ketchup, Sriracha, and/or mustard if you prefer. Be prepared for the wows from your family when they see you can cook salt and pepper squid like a professional chef!


  1. Replace all-purpose flour with cornstarch for a gluten-free dish. The squid coating will have a lighter color but it doesn’t affect taste.
  2. Resting the squid on a cooling rack is the best way to drain oil while keeping the rings crispy. Avoid using layered paper towels on a plate; it’ll absorb oil but the paper traps hot air and moisture that will “steam” the squid and make it soggy.


  • Serving Size: 1 of 4 servings
  • Calories: 348
  • Sugar: 0.2g
  • Sodium: 296mg
  • Fat: 12.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 27.8g
  • Fiber: 1.3g
  • Protein: 27.6
  • Cholesterol: 0mg