Fried squid with Asian pesto

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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.


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
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 chilli deseeded and finely diced




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

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

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

4. Finally, mix through the diced chilli.

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


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

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

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

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

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

6. Repeat the process with the squid tubes.

7. 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.