Vietnamese Salt & Pepper Calamari

At last weekend’s grocery shopping trip, I ventured into the frozen seafood section, realizing there are variations of squids for sale, each bag costs less than $5! I couldn’t believe my luck and picked up a bag. Growing up my Mama would make these delicious stir fried squid dishes, she would always warn us there’s a right and wrong way of scoring the squid pattern, then she would proceed to tell us the correct way is on a certain side. Well apparently from those talks, I’ve developed a phobia when it comes to cooking squid, knowing I would most likely score the criss-cross pattern onto the wrong side and mess the whole thing up, that’s the reason why I’ve never bothered with cooking this delicious seafood. Well back to the frozen squid I purchased, I bought the RINGS, hahah, there’s no messing up because there’s no need to slice or mark criss-cross onto them!


  • 1 bag of frozen squid rings, thawed and cleaned
  • 1 Small onion, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 Garlic, minced
  • 2 hot pepper, seeded and sliced
  • Oil (for deep frying)
  • 1.5 tsp Sugar
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground white pepper
  • 0.5 tsp Five spice powder
  • 1 cup Self rising flour
  • 3tsp Cornstarch
  • 1 tsp mustard powder

Method :

Mix flour, cornstarch and mustard powder, put aside.

Heat up the oil in a non-stick pan, when it gets to be around 350-375 degrees, it’s ready for frying.

Dunk squid into the flour powder mix, shake a little to get rid of excess, place into the hot oil to fry. Fry for 2-3 minutes then remove calamari (placed onto a paper towl to soak up excess oil), drain most of the oil in the pan, leave around 1-2 tbsp.

Stir fry onion, hot pepper and garlic until fragrant, return calamari to the pan, sprinkle the mixture of sugar, salt, pepper and five spice powder. Stir fry to cover calamari evenly. Serve immediately.

Adapted from: Vietnamese Recipes and Cuisines


12 Comments Add yours

  1. Calamari! YUM! I used to have a swallowing issue when I was young (just like my son now) so I didn’t get to enjoy squid and octopus when I was young. After growing up, I am totally in love with squid and calamari is one of my favorite squid dish! I also get frozen one – I like Korean brand that I find in chinese market. It’s nice and clean and yes, easy to use. Defrost! This looks delicious Cindy!

    1. Jeno says:

      Oh you had that problem also? My Mom would give my sister and I each half of an hard boiled egg in the morning, she would eat hers in 1 second, while I sit around for an eternity and still can’t finish mine, this was a daily event by the way, very traumatizing… Though for some reason all my food complex are gone, so I am very good at eating now a days!

      We normally order Calamari as appetizer at Italian restaurants, Chinese/Viet restaurants serve them as main dishes, so yummy! I want to find a better batter to make it extra crunchy, maybe adapt your tempura recipe?

  2. Sissi says:

    Jeno, I love your calamari recipe! It looks very easy too. You scared me with the scoring, I rarely prepare the scored calamar strips, but have always thought only the side is important (is it the non-shiny one?). The tempura experience is also worth trying! I should stop dreaming, I make too many deep-fried dishes…
    I have never heard about the swallowing issue (when I was a child I only had swallowing issue with the food I hated 😉 )

    1. Jeno says:

      Hi Sissi, how perfect that your recipe today calls for deep frying, and sounds like the method produced the lightest batter. I think the calamari I made last night can use some improvements, the batter was a bit hard, so I am definitely looking for another way to make it crunchier! I still have no idea which side of the squid to score, once I find out from my Mom it will be a new posting. haha!

  3. Nice! 😀 I love squid, although I usually don’t eat deep fried foods. I love that you used five spice, that goes so well with all kinds of dishes. 🙂

    1. Jeno says:

      Thanks Kath, I am not big on fried food either, can’t remember the last time I had a piece of fried chicken! One thing I noticed was the leftover calamari tasted better today for lunch, maybe because the batter has gotten softer… I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  4. kankana says:

    I tried calamari very few times and i really liked it. This is like great dish and looks lovely.

    1. Jeno says:

      Thank you Kankana! I was surprised how much my family enjoyed the calamari, looking for a lighter batter for the next time though!

  5. lyntrinix says:

    Wow! I would love to try this Vietnamese Salt & Pepper Calamari! They look so tempting! I seldom cook squids too for the same reason like you but with the frozen ring ones I’ve no prob at all! lol 😛

    1. Jeno says:

      Hahahah, glad to know I am not the only person who is afraid of cooking squid due to the scoring! I never even thought about buying frozen squid in the last few years of learning how to cook, but now I realize these rings are so easy to use, there will be more squid recipes!

  6. Jenny says:

    Hi Jeno, that dish looks absolutely scrummy. I had calamari last night at a smart pub, but really, yours looks so much more delicious!

    1. Jeno says:

      You are too kind Jenny! This is one of those easy recipes, though I try not to make it too much due to the “frying”. But who can turn down a good calamari right? Happy Holidays!

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