Recipe courtesy of Luke Nguyen
Episode: Marseille
Salt and Pepper Cuttlefish
40 min
40 min
4 appetizer servings
40 min
40 min
4 appetizer servings


Seasoning mix:
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 7 ounces cuttlefish tubes, cleaned
  • 8 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 egg white
  • 7 ounces potato starch
  • 2 bird's eye chiles, finely sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 scallion, finely sliced


For the seasoning mix: Put the salt, ginger, pepper, sugar and five-spice in a bowl and mix together thoroughly.

For the aioli: Using a mortar and pestle, bash the garlic cloves into a paste. In a bowl, combine the garlic paste, lemon juice, salt, white pepper and eggs yolks, and whisk well. Add the olive oil, a few drops at a time, whisking slowly as you add the oil. Once you have added about 1 fluid ounce of oil, you can continue to add the oil in one slow, steady stream, whisking slowly, until thick and emulsified. Place the aioli in a container, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

For the cuttlefish: Lay the cleaned cuttlefish out on a cutting board, insert your knife into the top edge of the body and run your knife down to the bottom of the cuttlefish. Fold the tube open as you would a book. Working from the top right of the cuttlefish to the bottom left, make diagonal slices in the flesh, making sure not to penetrate through. Then work from the top left to the bottom right of the cuttlefish so you now have a crisscross pattern. Cut the cuttlefish in half from top to bottom, turn it horizontally and slice through to make 1/4-inch-wide pieces, then place them in a bowl.

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat until a deep-frying thermometer inserted into the oil reaches 350 degrees F, or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil browns in 15 seconds.

Meanwhile, whisk the egg white until it slightly foams up, and pour half of it into the bowl with the cuttlefish. Work the egg white into the cuttlefish with your fingers, then start adding the potato starch, a little at a time. Keep adding the potato starch to the cuttlefish until the cuttlefish is well covered and feels quite dry.

Shake off any excess starch, then start adding the cuttlefish to the oil, a few pieces at a time, but in quick succession to maintain the heat of the oil. Lift out the starch that floats free of the cuttlefish with a metal strainer and discard. Cook until the batter on the cuttlefish feels quite firm when tapped with a wooden spoon, 3 to 5 minutes.

Carefully pour the cuttlefish into a colander to drain the oil. Drain all but 2 teaspoons of oil from the wok, then return it to the heat. Add the chiles, garlic and scallions, toss to combine then add the cuttlefish. Continue to toss while shaking over 1 teaspoon of the prepared seasoning mix. Serve with the garlic aioli.

Cook's Note

This quantity of mayonnaise is best made in a bowl using a whisk. Make sure the bowl is secure on the work surface; sit the bowl on a folded tea towel so it doesn't move around.

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