Fried squid with Asian pesto

Squid doesn’t have to mean calamari (although we like that too). Executive chef Neil Haydock gives this versatile and sustainable ingredient an Asian makeover.

Deep-fried squid with Asian pesto

From the same family as the octopus and cuttlefish, squid may look jellyish and unappetising but they are actually a versatile food source. Available all year round, they can be frozen without adverse effect, and the ink can be used to colour and flavour pasta. Squid should be cooked either very briefly or for a long time – anything else and it will be rubbery and chewy.

Serves 1 as a main or 2 as a starter

Asian pesto ingredients

100g blanched peanuts, unsalted
50g coriander
50g flat leaf parsley
50g mint
1 clove peeled garlic, finely chopped
1 thumbnail size of ginger, finely chopped
Peanut or sunflower oil
1 lime
Fish sauce
Palm sugar to taste
1 red chili deseeded and finely diced

Deep fried squid with Asian pesto


Roast the peanuts in a hot oven until golden and allow to cool.

Place the nuts, herbs, garlic and ginger into a blender and blitz to a paste.

Add the oil until a pesto-like consistency, then season with lime, fish sauce and palm sugar to taste.

Finally mix through the diced chili.

Squid ingredients

2 litres oil for deep frying
100g custard powder
5g chilli powder
Star anise powder, pinch
Dried thyme, pinch
Sea salt
1kg fresh squid, cleaned

Deep fried squid with Asian pesto


Heat the oil to 180oC in a fryer or large pan.

Combine the custard powder, spices, thyme and salt together.

Open up the squid tubes and lightly score the inside with a knife and cut into bite-sized pieces.

Toss the tentacles in the spice mix and shake off any excess.

Deep fry for around thirty seconds and place onto a tray containing kitchen paper to drain any excess oil.

Repeat the process with the squid tubes.

Place the pesto onto the plates and top with the squid and serve immediately.

Top tip: We use custard powder to give the squid a light crust that cooks in the short time needed to cook squid perfectly. The golden colour comes from the milk powder in the custard.

Book your table at Zacry’s.

2 thoughts on “Fried squid with Asian pesto

  1. Elizabeth

    We had a sublime meal at Zacarys on the taste of the bay meal on Tuesday evening – the food and service were first rate and we would like to request the recipe for the pasta and truffle masharoni please which we all thought was to die for!
    Many thanks the Gibbons And Becketts

    1. sarah Post author

      Hi Elizabeth, We’re so pleased to hear this and will pass your feedback onto the team at Zacry’s. And you’re in luck. Chef has been very kind and given us his secret recipe for his truffled maccheroni. Keep an eye out on the blog in the very near future…


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