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? re: Chinese style deep fried squid and deep fried calamari

This is one of my favorite appetizers to order (in Chinese, Greek, Italian restaurants, etc). I find it's quite hit or miss in most restaurants. I've had it tender on rare occassions, but for the most part, it can be quite chewy and tough. Is it the cooking method, oil, heat, or the freshness of the squid?

I had it the last time at Chiu Chow Boy (not greasy, but chewy). Before that, at Greek Odyssey (not great experience) and it was again, chewy. At Congee Star, greasy, chewy and on the tough side. A few months ago, it was perfect at Congee Queen; a repeat visit and it was tough.

Would like to know if it's just a hit/miss item?

TIA!

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  1. I had a pretty good one at O-Mei dim sum (hwy 7 location). It was a touch sweet, but it's done with their 5 spices which is quite nice. The thinner ends are nice and crunchy, while the thicker parts have a bit of chew to it. I agree with you that consistency in texture really various from place to place.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Royaljelly

      Hi Royaljelly, I've read about good dim sum at O-Mei. Would you please refresh my memory (is it carts or ordering from a card)? What items are your favorite? I would not mind to google O-Mei here, but this site is driving me nuts with all the technical issues, spinning, freezing, etc.

      TIA in case I can't get back in

      1. re: red dragon

        Omei Dim sum is all ordered from a menu. Good selection and we enjoyed the special wrapped rice, chicken feet and shrimp dumplings. But by far the best is the squid tentacles - no batter, just marinated and fried and sprinkled with some sugar and salt/pepper, perfectly balanced and just the right amount of chewiness. But if you are looking for the crunch factor, it may not be what you hope for.
        Tried their shanghai noodle also but not great - I have a feeling that their stuff is better when you order the more pricey items, like lobster noodles.

    2. Tang's Cuisine (in the same plaza as Go For Tea on highway seven and highway 404) has consistently good fried squid in my experience. Their dim sum frying chief in general, has all hits.

      1. I'm not an expert, but in my own experience it's definitely a hit/miss item.

        My own "logic" tells me that you need to have the right combination of fresh squid and hot-enough oil (and, of course, an experienced hand) to get that "perfect" deep fried squid. Maybe if there are a lot of consecutive orders, the oil doesn't get a chance to get back up to optimal frying temp?

        For what it's worth, Congee Queen is our favourite and worth the drive. In fact, even my parents insist on going there when they happen to be in town for a visit!

        8 Replies
        1. re: homebaker

          To expand further on the "experience" note, squid is one of those things that can very easily be overcooked, so if the kitchen is busy and they are left just 1 minute longer in the oil it will become chewy.

          Some places tenderize it using baking soda, so it will never be tough or chewy, but that practice robs it of its texture and taste.

          1. re: Teep

            Thanks for all the feedback! I thought it might have something to do with the cooking technique.

            1. re: red dragon

              Grand has been solid the few times I have ordered it. Photo I think conveys the crispness of the dish:
              http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

              I agree, I tend to find it a hit or miss at restaurants frequently. Hard to provide food to the masses, probably. The aforementioned reasons provided seem very logical.

              1. re: BokChoi

                Hey BokChoi, you prefer the one at Grand ? I had the other style at Casa Imperial which I like more ! But I agree with others who said this item is always hit and miss, even with the same place.

                 
                1. re: skylineR33

                  Never tried that version before. Didn't know what dishes to try at Casa Imperial. The two times I went I was not impressed - but I could have just been ordering the wrong dishes.
                  What's good there?

                  1. re: BokChoi

                    I vote for Bamboo on Danforth. Crispy and never greasy or soggy - probably one of its best dishes (amongst many).

                2. re: BokChoi

                  ordered it again, because this thread reminded me of it. Crunchy, yet again:

                  http://www.flickr.com/photos/bokchoi-...

            2. re: homebaker

              Went back to Congee Queen after a very long absence. The squid was pretty good, still chewy, but not as chewy as other places. As usual with all places, this item is super salty. I'll have to ask the manager (who we know) if the salt is already in the breading itself or if it can be decreased.

              I had a sore throat/cold and went in to have some congee (which I hate) - can't believe I ended up ordering the yowl til (excuse my translation) and deep fried squid!! Not even a sore throat can stop me from eating my favorite food ...LOL

            3. New Ho King on Spadina has great spicy salted quid (deep fried with salt and chillies on top).