Grilled squid and candied ikan bilis

Grilled squid and candied ikan bilis

Green Pickled Peaches
Chris Chen

This and the following recipe share a common ingredient and are reflections on what makes a dish ‘casual’ or ‘formal’. This is what I’d call the casual dish: simple ingredients, simply put together without too much fuss.

For the candied ikan bilis


Quantity Ingredient
100g ikan bilis, (see glossary)
1 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
3 teaspoons dark soy sauce or the treacly taiwanese soy sauce

For pickling the green papaya

Quantity Ingredient
peanut oil, for frying
2 long green chillies
1/4 green papaya
375ml rice vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoons caster sugar

For grilling the squid

Quantity Ingredient
4 whole squid, about 100 g each
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lime, cut in wedges, to serve
extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling


  1. Candy the ikan bilis:
  2. Toast the ikan bilis in a medium–hot pan with a little oil until crispy. Drain on paper towels. In another pan heat the sugar until it turns light caramel. Add the ikan bilis and toss to coat well. Add the soy sauce and toss again to coat with that. Tip the ikan bilis onto a foil-lined baking tray brushed with a little oil and separate them out so they don’t clump while they’re cooling.
  3. Pickle the green papaya:
  4. Heat a pan and drizzle with oil. Add the chillies and reduce the heat to medium. Char the chillies by pressing one side against the bottom of the pan, then turning them and charring the other side. Refresh in iced water. Peel, chop roughly and put in a bowl. Peel the green papaya, scrape out the seeds and membrane and slice the flesh thinly. Add to the bowl. Bring the vinegar, salt and sugar and 500 ml water to the boil in a saucepan, cool to room temperature and then pour over the papaya and chillies. Leave to sit for a couple of hours before serving.
  5. Grill the squid:
  6. Clean the squid by cutting off the heads and removing the wings (but keep the skin on). Pull out the innards then rinse out and dry the inside of the tubes. I’d suggest using a plancha (metal griddle plate) or a stainless steel frying pan for grilling the squid. Heat the pan on the highest flame until it’s smoking hot. Scatter the salt on the pan then add the squid and cook for about 10 seconds. Use a fish slice to keep the underneath of the squid that against the pan so that it’s golden and crusted. Turn the squid and repeat the process. Take out of the pan and season with white pepper.
  7. Assemble the dish:
  8. The squid should be served immediately. Cut the squid into rings and arrange on a platter with a pile of the pickled green papaya and chillies. Scatter about some of the ikan bilis. Serve with lime wedges and drizzle the plate with extra virgin olive oil.
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