I have always considered myself quite a nice person. I like food of all shapes, flavours and colours. From every country and continent. I don’t discriminate, I am an equal opportunity eater. It’s only the doctors who say I’m intolerant. And certain foods who refuse to tolerate me. They certainly refuse to recognise and respect my right to eat them without major physical discomfort and distress.

Gluten and lactose are not my friends.

Despite the negative attitudes surrounding me from many of those I love best, (cakes, ice cream, hot toast) I decided to become a chef. Not always easy when you live in a bread and milk filled world. I like to think that this has helped me become a better person as I embrace my differences and refuse to let the gluten get me down. I believe InTolerance. I am the InTolerant Chef.

Food should not be about what you can’t eat, but what you can and what you enjoy eating. This blog is about my journey of cooking and eating and discovery. It’s not a definitive guide to allergy awareness nor do my intolerances make me an expert. Your body is your responsibility, not mine. I only know what works for me.

I can tell you this..... No glutens were harmed in the making of this website.

March 13, 2011

Sweet Chilli Calamari

Deep fried crumby rubber bands.

Languishing in the greasy tray of the local chippie. Sprinkle them with some chicken salt, and chew and chew and chew.
Sadly that's the only experience some people get with this little cephalopod, but it is really so delicious and tender. You just need to treat it right.

The secret to cooking squid or calamari is to cook it very fast, or very slow. There is nothing in between.

If you find a whole squiddy thing daunting, just go ahead and buy the clean white tubes at the supermarket. They won't be as great, but I promise I won't tell anyone (in fact, the market had no whole squid today, so that's what I had to use too. Shhh...)

Slit the tubes open and lay them flat on the chopping board, with the inside facing you.
Take a nice sharp knife and score the flesh in little diagonal cuts nice and close together. Don't cut all the way through though. Turn the board around and do the same again in the opposite direction. You should now have a pretty little diamond pattern all over the inside of the tube. Cut them into strips about the size of two fingers in length and width.

Prepare some seasoned flour by mixing some rice flour, szechaun pepper, black pepper and salt together to taste. Now dip or shake each piece into it and make sure it's nicely covered. This will help protect it from overcooking, give it a nice tasting coating, and help to thicken the sauce as well. Don't try and do this in advance, leave it until the last minute or the flour will go soggy and not crisp up well.

Get your fry pan nice and hot, then add in about a tablespoon of oil.

Put in the pieces scored side down, adding just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. It's OK if you need to do a few panfuls, just don't crowd it. As soon as they just start to curl up, pull them out and set aside. Keep going until all your pieces are done.

Pour a good glug of dry white wine into the hot pan. This will deglaze it and remove all the yummy bits from the bottom. Let it come up to the boil to remove the alcohol, them add maybe a quarter of a cup of Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce and a tablespoon of hot chilli sauce as well. Let it bubble for a minute to combine, then put the squid back in the pan and toss through the hot sauce.

At this stage I like to add in some small diced capsicums and blanched snowpeas for a bit of crunch and colour. Tonight, as you may have noticed, I had neither, but it is prettier with them in.

The calamari will quickly start to curl into pretty little tubes and the residual flour coating will thicken the sauce. Pull it off the heat, this means it's done. Don't let it stew away in the sauce or it will go tough and chewy, remember- we want it buttery soft and tender.

Serve this immediately with maybe some rice or a salad.

So tell me Readers, do you find tackling a whole squid tricky?


  1. You're so right about quick or very slow cooking. And when you have a chewy piece, sometimes it feels like you will never get it down!

  2. Cook it quick cook it fast I'll eat it fast too!

  3. MMMMMMMMMMMMM,...what a tasty & appetizing squid recipe!
    I love your step by step pictures too!

    I am also lactose - intolerant & I don't eat gluten anymore since june 2010!

    Many greets from a recent gf foodie from Brussels, Belgium! :)

  4. OMG, I WANT THIS! I'm not afraid of squids, even whole ones, I love them in all variations (except deep fried in dough). Amazing you did that cutting pattern yourself - I've recently found frozen squid in the Asia store that was prepared like this already, but of course now I want to try that myself!

    Have you received my email on the dragon cookie cutter, btw? Just let me know if you want one.

  5. Definitely, I had to call my mum couple of times before wrestling with the squid! Love this recipe and your method of handling it ;)

  6. oooh this looks great! I have been craving calamari since I had it at a Japanese tepanyaki restaurant over the weekend!

  7. I can eat this squid dish everyday and not get bored with it! Look absolutely delicious.

  8. YUMMO Ms Bec, looks grand! And you know something, I do get a little overwhelmed, still when I have to tackle a whole squid. I will often call Kris, my bro and get him in on the action. Nothing beats a fresh made fried piece of squid, those packet ones are dreadful, the preservatives and chemicals they put in them are dreadful. Anyways lovely, great post. Im craving some right now. :)

  9. I only just had my first positive squid experience this saturday past, so this actually appeals to me! If I had seen this last week I think I would have been instantly turned off. Weird, huh?

  10. Delish! Now I know you used rice flour because of your intolerances, but I bet this is the best type of flour for this dish - it would make them nice and crispy! (Before they are drowned in sauce!)

  11. Absolutely huh..., done wrong = chewy rubber bands. Done right = OMG ;) Love this stuff done right, truly ruly love it :)

  12. Tackling whole squid is indeed creepy and scary (my thoughts hehe). In the end it is absolutely delicious, but it is a process! Your cooking lately is looking especially amazing. Maybe it is because I am hungry. No, I think it's you :)
    Heidi xo

  13. Hello Lovelies,

    It can get a bit messy when you do things from scratch, but there are so many options from 'phoning a friend' to getting it pre prepared, that there's no excuse for not eating this yummy creature!

    It's so nice to see some new faces at the comment board too, nice to meet you.

    Keep up the cooking adventures!