Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Salt and Szechuan Pepper Squid with Chilli Caramel

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Salt and Szechuan Pepper Squid with Chilli Caramel

Article excerpt

SALT and pepper squid has been an Aussie favourite for years now and many versions feature on the menu at fine establishments. Our version at the Byron Beach Cafe is particularly interesting and very popular with our customers, featuring the savoury aroma of Szechuan pepper and the sweet fragrant character of a Thai-inspired caramel dressing.

This year due to popular demand we are featuring the squid at the Sample Food Festival.

Christian Poulsen

Chef at Byron Beach Cafe

Ingredients for Salt and

Szechuan pepper flour

500g plain flour

50g fine table salt

25g ground white pepper

50g Szechuan pepper

To make the flour mixture, first toast and grind the Szechuan pepper. If you're unsure about toasting spices the method is exactly the same as toasting nuts. You can place them in a dry frying pan on a medium heat and keep tossing them around for a few minutes until a little smoke appears, then either transfer to a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar to grind. Alternatively you can spread them out on a baking tray in a 200A[degrees]C oven for a few minutes until they darken slightly. Keep an eye on them because they can begin to burn very quickly. Once ground as much as possible, rub them through a sieve over a dry mixing bowl to remove the husks. Sieve the flour into the bowl with the Szechuan pepper followed by the salt and ground white pepper. Combine them well by stirring with your fingers and set aside.

Ingredients for chilli

caramel

5 long red chillies, roughly

chopped

3 garlic cloves crushed

1 lemongrass stalk smashed

6 lime leaves

30g piece of ginger smashed

250g palm sugar

250ml water

80ml fish sauce

The chilli caramel can be made days in advance and will keep like honey. Just store it in an airtight jar in a cool, dry, dark place and it will be good indefinitely. Simply combine all the ingredients and simmer slowly in a small saucepan until it all becomes dark and thick. The process should take an hour but if it reduces too fast, simply add a little water to extend the simmering time. Once the ingredients have become candied, remove from the stove and store. …

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