Hot butter squid

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This hot butter squid is made by first deep-frying spiced, battered squid and then quickly coating it in a hot and tangy garlic butter infused with red onions and banana chillies. You need Sri Lankan chilli paste to make the squid. There is a recipe below to make a large jar's worth (450g) but you could also use shop-bought. 

This recipe is taken from Hoppers: The Cookbook by Karan Gokani (Quadrille, £30) Photography: Ryan Wijayaratne

First published in 2023

Karan says: 'This could well be one of the most addictive things you’ve ever eaten. It’s essentially fried squid taken to the next level, and it’s not hard to see why this is one of Sri Lanka’s favourite snacks. Like fritters or tempura, this dish is best eaten just out of the fryer, so make sure you have hot plates ready and don’t wait around too long. In Sri Lanka, this dish is usually made with cuttlefish, but we have always used squid or chipirones as we find them less prone to overcooking or turning chewy. If you can source good-quality fresh cuttlefish, swap the squid for the former and give the recipe a go. Clean and cut the cuttlefish into 5cm squares and lightly score one side with a criss-cross pattern using a sharp knife, being careful not to cut through.'

'Think of the chilli paste used in this dish as the Sri Lankan equivalent of an addictively spicy Chinese-style chilli crisp or chilli oil. Often eaten alongside rice and curry or kothus, this is a condiment you’ll want to make in large batches to give as gifts and stock up on. If my personal experience is anything to go by, you will end up eating it all the time, with everything! Beware when picking your crushed chillies as some of these are mighty-hot. I’ve had some very painful experiences having used a deceptively innocent looking crushed chilli. This condiment requires a whole load of chilli, so reducing the quantity can alter the flavour and texture of the dish. If you can’t find a chilli to match your heat levels, use Sichuan dried chillies or flakes, or mild Italian chilli flakes. Remember though that time will mellow the intense heat of the chilli, so don’t be too timid.'




Chilli Paste

Hot Butter squid



Heat 125ml of the oil in a small wok or pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and fry until crisp and brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels

  • 125ml of vegetable oil
  • 50g of red onion, approx. 1 small onion, finely sliced

Reduce the heat to low, add the ginger and garlic to the oil and cook until golden brown, about 5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain with the onions


Finally, add the shrimps and Maldive fish flakes and fry for 5 seconds more, then remove and drain. Once all the fried ingredients have cooled to room temperature, transfer to a blender and pulse a few times to make a coarse paste. If you prefer the end result to be chunky, you can skip this step and leave the aromatics whole


Add the remaining 125ml oil to the pan. Add the paste back to the pan along with the chilli flakes and cook well for 30 seconds, being careful not to burn the delicate chilli flakes as they will turn bitter


Finally add the sugar, soy sauce and salt, mix well and taste. Adjust the levels of sugar and soy to your taste. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge


Combine the squid with the turmeric, ¼ tsp black peppercorns and ¼ tsp salt. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes


Place a small pan over a medium heat and add the butter. Once melted, add the garlic and ginger and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the onion and banana chilli and continue to cook until light brown and just softened, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar, 1 tsp chilli paste, a large pinch of salt and the remaining crushed black peppercorns and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat


Preheat a deep pan or wok over a high heat with oil for deep-frying

  • oil, for deep-frying

Meanwhile, combine the cornflour, self-raising flour, a large pinch of salt and the soda water to form a thin batter. Dip the squid into the batter and fry for 60–90 seconds, until the  batter is crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towels

  • 70g of cornflour
  • 60g of self-raising flour
  • 200ml of soda water

After about 30 seconds, transfer to the pan with the butter sauce, toss well to coat and add the green chillies, cooking over medium heat for 1 minute. Garnish with spring onions and serve immediately

First published in 2023

After giving up his job as a lawyer to pursue a career in food, Karan Gokani channelled his passion for South Indian cuisine into the launch of the now hugely popular Hoppers. As creative director, he oversees menu development at all three Hoppers sites.

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