This Spicy Gluten-Free Salt and Pepper Shrimp and Squid is crispy, loaded with flavour and irresistibly delicious. Tender pieces of calamari and shrimp are dredged in a gluten-free coating, fried to perfection and tossed in chiles and garlic. If you love fried calamari or fritto misto, you’re going to fall head over heels for this delicious Cantonese-style dish.
What You Need for Gluten-Free Salt and Pepper Shrimp and Squid
- Shrimp: For its size and texture, I like to use 16/20 Black Tiger shrimp that have been peeled and deveined. You can keep the tail on for presentation or remove it before cooking. You can also make this Gluten-Free Salt and Pepper Shrimp and Squid with smaller or bigger shrimp if that’s preferred. Note that the cooking time may change slightly (plus or minus) depending on the size of the shrimp.
- Squid: You can use squid tubes (AKA hoods) or tubes and tentacles. Most squid sold in stores is already cleaned, but if you buy ones that aren’t, you’ll need to make sure the outer skin is peeled, fins removed, insides cleaned, rinsed well under cold water, and thoroughly dried.
Before cooking, use a sharp knife to score the inside of the flesh in a cross-hatch pattern. This not only makes for a nicer presentation, but it also helps the breading to stick to the squid.
- Tapioca Starch: Tapioca starch is gluten-free, grain-free and works perfectly for Salt and Pepper Shrimp and Squid. It makes for a light yet crispy coating that doesn’t taste greasy. You can find it at most Asian markets and many health food stores. Or, you can buy it online at retailers like Thrive Market.
- Egg: Mixing the shrimp and squid with an egg will help the tapioca starch to stick and prevent it from falling off as it fries in the oil. Some recipes for Salt and Pepper Squid will call for egg white, but I prefer to use the whole egg because the yolk adds colour and results in less waste.
- Salt and Pepper: As the name implies, the shrimp and squid are generously seasoned with salt and pepper. As always, season to taste. After all, you’re the one enjoying it.
- Aromatics: For added flavour, colour and texture, the fried seafood is tossed in a combination of stir-fried garlic, chiles and green onions.
- Fly By Jing: This is the wild card and highly recommended. Seasoning the seafood with some Fly By Jing Mala Spice Mix and then tossing it at the end with some of their Sichuan Chili Crisp will take this already delicious recipe to another level. Note that there is a bit of sugar in the Mala Spice Mix, and the Sichuan Chili Crisp contains soy, so they are not considered Paleo or Whole30. However, they completely transform this dish and make for a versatile addition to your Food Freedom pantry.
If you want to order some online, you can use code PRIMAL15 for 15% OFF your order.
Can You Make This Gluten-Free Shrimp and Squid Paleo?
For a Paleo version of this recipe, simply omit the Mala Spice Mix and Sichuan Chili Crisp. Instead, season the seafood with salt and pepper before and after cooking. Or, for a similar flavour profile, try adding 1 teaspoon of Chinese Five Spice powder.
Can I Use an Air Fryer?
I don’t personally own an air fryer so I haven’t tested this recipe in one. However, because the coating on the seafood is quite dry, I would imagine an air fryer could be used.
Can I Substitute Other Seafood?
Personally, I like the combination of shrimp and squid. However, you can make this recipe with all squid or all shrimp. Alternatively, you could use scallops, lobster, cuttlefish, or small pieces of white fish.
If you’re not a fan of seafood, try it with cubed pieces of pork chop, or boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken thighs.
Spicy Gluten-Free Salt and Pepper Shrimp and Squid
- ½ pound 16/20 raw shrimp peeled and deveined
- 2 calamari tubes peeled and cleaned
- 3 teaspoons Fly By Jing Mala Spice Mix plus extra for garnish, substitute salt and pepper or Chinese Five Spice to taste for Paleo
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon tapioca starch
- 2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 2 green onions thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 red finger chile thinly sliced
- 3 teaspoons Fly By Jing Sichuan Chili Crisp omit for Paleo
- Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Using a sharp knife, slice the calamari tubes in half lengthwise. Score the inside of the tubes in a crosshatch pattern then slice into bite-sized triangular sections. Rinse well under cold water and pat very dry with paper towel.
- In a large bowl, combine the calamari, shrimp, 1.5 teaspoons Mala Spice Mix and egg. Mix well to coat. Add 1 tablespoon tapioca starch and mix well to coat.
- In a separate bowl, add 1/3 cup tapioca starch and season with 1.5 teaspoons Mala Spice Mix, or salt and pepper to taste for Paleo. Coat each piece of calamari and shrimp in the tapioca starch, shake of any excess and place on a sheet pan in a single layer.
- Add 2/3 cup avocado oil to a wok or sauté pan over medium-high heat until it reaches 350F. Working in batches, cook the calamari and shrimp until golden brown and crispy on both sides, around 90 seconds total for the calamari and 3 minutes total for the shrimp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked seafood to a sheet pan lined with a cooling rack. Set aside.
- Discard the oil and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon avocado oil. Heat until the oil is shimmering then add the white parts of the green onion, garlic and sliced chiles. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, around 60 seconds. Return the cooked seafood, add the Sichuan Chili Crisp and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with the green parts of the green onion, a dash of Mala Spice Mix and serve immediately.