I had a fancy for something tasty. Actually, what I really had a fancy for was our local takeaway’s Salt and Pepper Squid, which is probably the most delicious salt and pepper squid anywhere. And I should know – just ask the Bear. Wherever we go if I see it on the menu, I ask for it.
I’ve eaten it in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Hobart in Australia; in Honolulu and on Kauai in Hawaii; in Florence, Barcelona, Dublin, Copenhagen, and Lisbon. I’ve eaten it in smart restaurants in the UK and in cheap ones, but somehow, nothing beats our local takeaway. They cook everything in an open kitchen and the food is spankingly fresh.
The batter round the squid is light and lacy. The squid is never chewy and the salt and chillies are perfectly balanced. The only annoying thing is that whenever I order it, people who HAVEN’T ordered it (because they don’t like squid… or chillies… or whatever else..) suddenly decide they want to try and it and then they take mine!
Anyway, despite wanting it so much that my fingers itched to phone an order in, I decided to try and stick to our vague diet. No salt and pepper squid for us that night.
But the thought of salt and peppered something just stuck in my mind.
I’d worked out a salt and pepper seasoning that didn’t involve deep frying or batter and I’ve used it on prawns and steak. Because you almost dry fry whatever protein it is you are using, the calorie count drops significantly.
There you go, then, I thought. Perfect justification to make something tasty for supper. I WAS going to have salt and pepper after all. And I could still say we were on a diet.
I like to make lots of salt and pepper seasoning because whatever I don’t use, I keep in an airtight jar ready for my next night of craving. I had some left but I needed to top up my supply.
First of all, toast some salt in a large frying pan – yes, this sounds bizarre but it is essential. You will see the colour change slightly and it takes less than a minute. I used a couple of heaped tablespoons of crushed Maldon (I have to crush it in the pestle and mortar because the crystals are large and I need to end up with a smooth spice mix) Take the pan off the heat until you have the spice mix ready.
See those? They are Szechuan pink peppercorns. Not real pepper of course but they add that hint of authenticity. They need to be pounded along with the same amount of black peppercorns.
I didn’t have any star anise but I did have some Chinese 5 Spice Powder so a good dessertspoon or so of that was added to the mix
You end up with a fine mix.
Add that to the salt in the frying pan and toast again – beware of the aromatic fumes though, they can be a bit strong. Just a minute or so is all it needs, so stir it round so it toast evenly and leave it to cool. Once it is cool, put it in your jar and wipe the pan out.
And that’s it.
On to the next step – the meat.
Tonight I was going to use pork tenderloin, which is, amazingly, a very inexpensive cut of meat. Even more inexpensive if you, like I did, manage to call in at the supermarket on the way home and find it reduced for a quick sale.
Now the spice mix is cool, put some on a plate and roll it round, pressing down so it sticks to the outside of the meat.
Put your pan back on the heat with a scattering of oil in it (maybe a teaspoon or so… we ARE dieting you know!) and once it is hot pop in the tenderloin.
Roll the tenderloin so the spice mix browns and crusts beautifully.
Once the crust looks good, turn the heat down and let the meat cook through for ten minutes or so.
Let it rest for five minutes then slice it into medallions….. Delicious.
Healthy and tasty, oh so very tasty. Quick and easy and low in calories. pretty much of a perfect supper, eh?
You can serve it with anything you like – let it cool and serve it with salad leaves or add some vegetables. If you aren’t dieting serve it with rice… or potatoes, maybe. Well, we were dieting and potaoes were off limits. I wanted to eat it hot so I made broccoli to go with it. And yes, the Bear was eating with me, so I made broccoli a Bear would eat.
And when served with broccoli it becomes heaven on a plate!