Skip to Content

Salt and Pepper Squid Crispy Spicy Calamari

Salt and pepper squid may sound complicated and intimidating but it is a remarkably easy and quick dish to cook and it tastes fantastic.

Szechuan pepper, black pepper, and garlic are joined by some fresh chilli to create a complex and delicious spice profile in this simple dish.

Crispy fried salt and pepper squid with a lemon wedge.

Crispy Salt and Pepper Calamari

Fish and seafood are often considered to be tricky things to cook but it really is incredibly simple, tasty and quite healthy too!

My latest recipe is salt and pepper squid and it joins a couple of other cephalopod recipes. I have some wonderful breaded calamari rings and also some delicious stuffed squid.

This recipe is super quick, it is fried in just a couple of minutes and then tossed in a mix of salt, pepper, Szechuan pepper, chilli, and garlic.

This recipe uses a similar technique to the one used in my recent crispy fried tofu recipe. It is the safest and simplest way to “deep” fry in a wok on a stove.

I also have salt and pepper chips, salt and pepper chicken and salt and chilli chicken recipes with a slightly bolder set of flavours and salt and pepper tofu and salt and pepper prawns both with a dipping sauce.

Overhead crispy fried salt and pepper squid.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use frozen squid tubes?

Yes, definitely… I developed this recipe when I lived in rural Hungary and only had access to frozen squid. It works perfectly, just defrost it before you get started!

What is Szechuan pepper?

Szechuan pepper is not closely related to pepper at all and it comes from a plant called Chinese prickly ash (Zanthoxylum bungeanum) and is often written as Sichuan pepper.

I often refer to it as being “grown-up popping candy”, it has a mild tingling effect when eaten and a really fragrant aroma.

I use it in dishes like Szechuan prawns and dan dan noodles.

Can I cook this in an Air Fryer?

I have experimented with this quite extensively and have always been extremely disappointed by the results. So for me, no stick with frying.

Can I use a deep-fat fryer?

Yes, of course, it is actually a better solution. However, I find them a terrible headache to maintain because I do not use them often enough.

You could also use a deep saucepan, but be sure not to fill it more than a third with oil before frying.


Cornflour is known as cornstarch in the US.

Close up crispy fried salt and pepper squid.

Serving Suggestions

I love to serve fried food with pickles, I think that it helps cut through the richness.

This salt and pepper squid is no different, I have served it here on a base of pickled cucumber, although pickled daikon would work just as well.

Obviously serving fried food on pickles makes them go a bit soft and I love that, but if it is not for you just serve it on the side.

If you want something a little more “substantial” how about something like this delicious peanut butter noodle salad?

Crispy fried easy salt and pepper squid with a lemon wedge.

Equipment Used

I only recommend specific brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • Wok, I use a large carbon steel wok.
  • Chopping board.
  • Sharp kitchen knife.
  • Pestle and mortar or spice grinder.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
  • Kitchen paper.
Crispy fried easy salt and pepper squid with a lemon wedge.
Yield: 2 Servings

Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Crispy fried salt and pepper squid with Szechuan pepper, black pepper and chilli, a perfect spicy nibble and my favourite way to cook calamari.


  • 350g (12oz) Squid Tubes
  • ½-¾ Tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 Tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 1 Tsp Szechuan Peppercorns
  • 1 Garlic Clove
  • 1 Chilli Pepper
  • 2 Spring Onions
  • 50g (⅓ Cup) Cornflour
  • Oil for Frying


  1. Take the squid tubes and clean off any residue and then slice make a cut from the tip to the base and open them up.
  2. Trim the top and bottom edges if required.
  3. Cut a crosshatch pattern (5-6mm ¼" apart) on the inside face of the squid ensuring that you do not cut all of the way through.
  4. Once scored cut the squid into 3cm (1¼") squares.
  5. Heat a dry wok (or frying pan) over a high heat and when it is hot toast the Szechuan peppercorns for 2-3 minutes keeping them moving all of the time. Transfer to a pestle and mortar or spice grinder and grind along with the black peppercorns.
  6. Deseed the chilli pepper and dice it as finely as you can.
  7. Peel the garlic cloves and chop them as finely as you can.
  8. Finely shred the spring onions.
  9. Dry the squid pieces thoroughly and place them in a bowl with the cornflower.
  10. Heat 3-4cm of oil in a wok to 180°C or 350°F.
  11. Pat the excess cornflour from the squid and deep fry for 2-3 mins. This is best done in two batches.
  12. Drain on kitchen towel.
  13. Pour the hot oil into a separate pan with the exception of a scant coating.
  14. Add the salt, peppers, garlic and chilli stir fry for 10 seconds. Add the squid, toss to coat and then serve sprinkled with the spring onions and lemon wedges.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 561Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 458mgSodium: 2230mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 46g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Paul Edwards

Tuesday 27th of August 2019

Brian, I'm stumped by instruction 8. Could you clarify please? Cheers Paul.

Brian Jones

Tuesday 27th of August 2019

There you go Paul I have re-written instruction 8 to hopefully make it clearer. I agree, the way I phrased it was horrible ;) Hopefully that now makes more sense.

Lisa Huff

Thursday 22nd of August 2019

Now this is squid I think I would try and eat! Loving all the fresh flavors and spices!

Brian Jones

Sunday 25th of August 2019

Thanks Lisa


Thursday 22nd of August 2019

I've never had squid before! This sounds amazing!

Brian Jones

Thursday 22nd of August 2019

You should give it a go, it is much easier than many think!

Skip to Recipe