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Neil Perry: Salt-and-pepper squid with tomato nahm jim

Australian Gourmet Travller recipe for salt-and-pepper squid with tomato nahm jim by Neil Perry

By Neil Perry
  • 1 hr preparation
  • 10 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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Salt-and-pepper squid with tomato nahm jim
“This is really easy to do. The saltiness is great paired with a splash of heat, fish sauce and fresh lime.” - Neil Perry


  • For deep-frying: vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp cornflour, to bind
  • 500 gm (about 6) baby or bottle squid tubes, scored in a 5cm-crisscross pattern
  • To serve: fried golden shallots and garlic (see note), and a lime cheek
Tomato nahm jim
  • 2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 coriander roots, washed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 each of long red and green chillies, seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • 6 ripe cherry tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 small green chillies, thinly sliced
  • 2 small red shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp light palm sugar, finely crushed
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 60 ml lime juice, or to taste (¼ cup)
Sichuan flour mix
  • 10 gm Sichuan peppercorns (1 tbsp)
  • 100 gm cornflour (2/3 cup)


  • 1
    For tomato nahm jim, combine garlic and coriander root in a mortar and, using a pestle, pound to a coarse paste. Add long chillies and pound to a fine paste. Add tomatoes and pound until just pulped, then add green chilli, shallot, palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice and stir to dissolve. Check hot, salty, sour and sweet flavours are balanced, adjust as necessary. Makes about 1/3 cup.
  • 2
    For Sichuan flour mix, toast peppercorns in a frying pan over medium heat for 2 minutes or until aromatic, then finely grind using a mortar and pestle. Sift through a fine sieve, discarding husks. Combine pepper, cornflour and 3 tsp fine sea salt in a bowl. Check seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  • 3
    Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large wok to 180C. Whisk fish sauce, cornflour and 1/3 cup cold water in a bowl to combine, add squid and mix to coat thoroughly, then drain well. Set aside 2 tbsp flour mix and toss squid lightly in remaining flour, shaking off excess, then deep-fry, in batches, for 2 minutes or until golden.
  • 4
    To serve, dust squid with reserved flour mix and arrange on a plate. Serve, scattered with fried shallot and garlic with tomato nahm jim and lime cheeks to the side.


Fried golden shallots and garlic are available from Asian grocers.

  • Author: Neil Perry