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salt and pepper squid

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With all the oriental restaurants in Northern Virginia -- there's got to be some really good salt and pepper squid out there, but I haven't found it yet. We like ours with mostly tentacles, not chopped squid tubes. Wanted to make it at home, and went through heck trying to find sichuan pepper, because it turns out the govn't has banned the sale of it for fear it will give American citrus trees canker! Did find a kind purveyor (GreatAmericanSpice.com -- I recommend them highly) in Indiana who gave me some for free -- said he couldn't sell it because of the law! What interesting journeys food can take us on!

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  1. I like the squid at Hunan Number 1, in Clarendon.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Lori D

      thanks -- I'll try that. I think I've been to the Vietnamese place recommended by "Pappy." Yours may be more what I'm looking for.

    2. Might not be exactly what you are looking for, but I had an excellent rendition at Nam Viet in Clarendon about a year ago.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Pappy

        Thanks! I'll check out Nam Viet.

        1. re: Pappy

          The fried squid with lemon pepper dipping sauce and fresh herbs at Nam Viet is excellent, but not quite the same as Chinese crispy salt and pepper squid. The best, as far as I'm concerned, is at Joe's Noodle House in Rockville. It's crispy, yet tender and finely salted with a tiny hint of something like five-spice. They serve it with stir-fried garlic and jalapenos mixed in. I like to use the black vinegar and chilies in oil provided on each table for a dipping sauce. They usually serve a mixture of tiny whole squids and chunks of larger specimens, but not usually the "rings". I've tried this dish at a number of my favorite Chinese restaurants (Grace Garden, XO Taste, Full Kee, Sichuan Pavilion, etc.) but nothing quite measures up to Joe's version.

          1. re: flavrmeistr

            The salt and pepper ______________ at Joe's rocks.

        2. City Lights of China in Dupont does this dish nicely. Perfectly crisp without a glint of oil, fantastically salty and a good spiciness. However they, as most restaurants around here, mostly use main body of the squid, not the tentacles as you requested.

          1. Please don't use "orientatl"--Asian is a better term.

            Most Cantonese style restaurants have similar "three treasure" dishes--seafood or meats with spicy salt. Try asking if they would give you the tentacle. I always order seafood that way Eat First in Chinatown even though it's not on the menu.

            1. Hunan Number 1 in Clrendon uses the mantle for its main dishes and makes the head/tentacles into an appetizer (which I prefer). You might have luck with ordering both and asking them to do the two dishes together.

              1. please let me know if you find a really good spicy salt-pepper squid in northern VA. I am also searching for ones made with non-tubular, thin squid.

                1. Not sure if it's what you're looking for but I like the salt and pepper squid at Magic Wok Cafe at Belle View Shopping Center. I tend to prefer mildly spicy and fried hard and crisp. Little oil and no greasiness. The predominate flavor being black pepper. I'd say it's split 50/50 tentacles/tubes. Cheap. Also a BIG fan of their fried chicken wings and mambo sauce which I think is some of the best in the area, beating several of the older downtown Chinese carryouts in crispiness and meatiness.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: monkeyrotica

                    As a side note to all you cooks out there--the peppercorns have been legal again in the US for several years. Penzeys in Falls Church has the most potent version we've bought to date. In addition, the Vietnamese section of our local Grand Mart (Rt. 7, Sterling), stocks a ready-mix for salt and pepper shrimp which would work with squid if you want to try to make this at home.

                    We had salt and pepper squid at New Fortune in Gaithersburg yesterday. It would have been pretty spectacular if it had been hot, though it was mostly tube slices. Alas, it, like nearly all the dishes at our meal, was cold.

                    1. re: PollyG

                      Thanks Polly. 2 Questions.
                      1) Does the ready-mix include ground szcheun peppercorns?
                      2) Anything good at New Fortune? It's our go-t0 dim sum place, but we can have a great meal or a lousy one and I can never put my finger on why.

                      1. re: Pappy

                        1) I'm not sure. I have never used it myself, but my mother has and the results were good.

                        2)shrimp and banana rolls were very good, one of the few dishes that wasn't served ice cold. Our impression of New Fortune was that you probably want to get there the moment they open.

                  2. anyone, is the dish sought by the OP made like the hong kong palace's chengdu salt and pepper shrimp -- except made with squid?

                    2 Replies
                      1. re: FoodieGrrl

                        i wonder why one couldn't just ask them to prepare their squid this way. (as i recall, they offer squid, right?).

                        i *do* love that chengdu salt and pepper shrimp, especially when i get a big shrimp craving!

                        again, slightly off topic, but does XO taste have any similar dish?