Crispy Calamari and Shrimp with Pepper-Lime Sauce

Crispy Calamari and Prawns with Pepper–Lime Sauce
Crispy Calamari and Prawns with Pepper–Lime Sauce
A bright dipping sauce made of lime juice, shallot, and basil enlivens delicately breaded and fried calamari and shrimp in this Cambodian appetizer.Christopher Wise

A bright dipping sauce made of lime juice, shallot, and basil called toek enlivens fried calamari and prawns at The Sugar Palm, but it's just as good with grilled meats or vegetables. Use Wondra flour, which is very finely milled, for a thin, crisp coating on the shrimp; all-purpose flour is a fine substitute but will yield a heavier crust.

Crispy Calamari and Prawns with Pepper–Lime Sauce
A bright dipping sauce made of lime juice, shallot, and basil enlivens delicately breaded and fried calamari and shrimp in this Cambodian appetizer.

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 cup fine flour, such as Wondra
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 oz. cleaned calamari bodies and tentacles, bodies cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings
  • 8 oz. medium head-on and shell-on prawns
  • 12 basil leaves
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 chiles de árbol, stemmed and seeded
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, inner core thinly shredded lengthwise
  • 2 inches galangal, peeled and finely julienned
  • 14 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. finely grated palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. minced shallot
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic

Instructions

  1. Pour enough oil to come 2 inches up the side of 6-qt. saucepan and heat over medium to 350°. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the sugar and season with pepper and salt. Add the calamari bodies and tentacles and prawns and toss until evenly coated. Lift the calamari from the flour, shake off the excess, and place in the oil along with 4 basil leaves, 2 kaffir limes leaves, 1 chile, and half each of the shredded lemongrass and galangal.
  2. Deep-fry the calamari until golden brown and cooked through, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift the calamari, leaves, and chile from the oil and transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with the prawns, 4 basil leaves, and the remaining kaffir lime leaves, chile, and shredded lemongrass and galangal.
  3. Finely mince the remaining 4 basil leaves and place in a small bowl, along with the 1 teaspoon pepper, the lime juice, palm sugar, shallot, and garlic. Season with salt and stir to combine. Serve the dipping sauce alongside the fried calamari, prawns, and herbs while hot.