I’m unapologetic about my catchphrase, if you can call it that. “I like it how I like it” seems to slip out of my mouth with relative ease and increasing frequency. And sometimes, when I’m rootling about in the fridge-freezer for dinner clues, I find myself wanting something very specific and particular. I’d had a shitty day on Thursday and wanted it all. I wanted dinner that would comfort, life affirm and generally amuse my bouche. God knows, it needed amusing.
Frozen scallops and squid rings are a goooood thing to have in the freezer. They defrost fast and with a bit of soothing kitchen-based tinkering, can become a bouche-amusing delight that reverses the fortunes of a trying day. When dusted with flour, dipped sparingly in beaten egg and then rolled with abandon in Panko breadcrumbs, we have the basis for something good. I fear frying, for health—and indeed, safety—reasons, but a bad day is a good day to throw caution to the wind. Hot hot oil that pops and crackles when our be-crumbed mollusc friends are dropped in, is what’s needed.
Now. Something crispy and yieldingly chewy inside, sprinkled with salt and doused with lime juice is delicious, but it needs something. Woman shall not feast on fried goods alone. Sambal may be over-egging it, but a sambal is what I shall call it: coconut flakes toasted ’til sweetly, nuttily aromatic; gently fried slivers of chilli and garlic; fine shards of kaffir lime leaf; and a bit of palm sugar or mirin sweetness. Piled together and then liberally applied to a now happy face, this, my friends, is having it all.