Hot butter cuttlefish (or HBC for short) is a dish that is synonymous with Sri Lankan Chinese cuisine. Yes, ‘Sri Lankan’ Chinese cuisine because after a decade of living in a majority Chinese country, I’m yet to find Chinese food like those in Sri Lankan Chinese restaurants.
As popular as it is, quite surprisingly it is not one of my favorite or must-have dishes off the Chinese menu. Most probably because my family were bigger fans of sweetcorn soup, sweet and sour prawns, kangkung beef and devilled chicken.
However, with multiple HBC posts appearing in my insta feed and a friend who constantly raves about this glorious HBC, I couldn’t help but give this dish a go. So here’s sharing the recipe and a few tips and tricks for the ever so popular hot butter cuttlefish. And it is just in time for Chinese New Year!
Cast of Characters:
- 500g Cuttlefish/ Squid/ Sotong
- Tempura flour or seasoned corn flour
- 50g butter
- 6-7 cloves of sliced garlic
- 3 Banana peppers aka capsicums – sliced diagonally
- 2-3 Dried red chilies – cut into slivers diagonally
- 2-3 Sprigs of spring onions – sliced diagonally
- 1-2 spoons of Sri Lankan Chilli paste (Watch this space for the recipe)
- Oil to deep fry
- Salt, Sugar & Pepper to taste
- Prepare the cuttlefish by removing their head, the ink sack, the cuttlebone, the fins and the deep purple skin.
- Set the tentacles aside and cut the body of the cuttlefish into 2″ size rings.
Tip: In order to make the cuttlefish “bloom” when frying, make little slits along one side of the ring using kitchen shears.
- Now marinate the tentacles and the rings with a bit of salt and pepper and set aside for about 5-10 mins.
- Dust the cuttlefish with either tempura flour or cornflour seasoned with salt and chill powder.
Tip: I did experiment coating the cuttlefish in a tempura batter as well as just dusting it with the tempura flour. Coating in a batter results in a thicker and heavier coating which is not as light and crisp when it’s just dusted with the flour.
- Deep fry the flour dusted cuttlefish until golden and set aside on some kitchen towels for oil to drain off. Caution: Please do be careful when deepfrying cuttlefish as it is notorious for splattering all over the place.
Tip: Make sure that the oil is really hot when adding the cuttlefish in. Ado not attempt to stir in immediately as this will make the batter to fall off.
- Heat up a tablespoon of oil and the butter in a large wok and mix in the garlic, followed by the dried red chilies. After a minute, add in the chili paste, sugar and the capsicums.
Tip: Hot butter cuttlefish obviously requires to be cooked in butter. However adding butter into a fiery hot wok will only result in burnt butter. This is the reason why a spoonful of oil is added together in order to prevent the butter from burning. Butter for flavor, oil to prevent the butter from burning is always a golden rule.
- Soon after mix in the fried cuttlefish and finish off with the spring onions and a good stir.
And there you have a delicious Sri Lankan Chinese style hot butter cuttlefish. This would pair beautifully well with a fried rice and a chilli paste. Or by itself, with a fork, an ice cold coke, and a book, on a couch, by yourself – ah blissful gluttony!