This squid with green peppercorns recipe makes Cambodia’s famous stir-fried squid with fresh Kampot peppercorns. It showcases two of Cambodia’s premium ingredients – it’s world-famous Kampot pepper and its wonderful fresh seafood. Served with rice, the super-simple recipe highlights the clean flavours of squid and the perfume of fresh green peppercorns.
This easy stir-fried squid with green peppercorns recipe is cooked all over Cambodia these days and you’ll find it on the menus of the best Cambodian restaurants here in Siem Reap, however, the dish originated on the coast of Southern Cambodia in Kampot.
Kampot is a small laidback city set on the Preaek Tuek Chhu River, just six kilometres from the ocean, and it’s best-known for its fantastic seafood – particularly squid, but also crab from nearby Kep – as well as its salt, extracted from nearby salt flats, and its outstanding Kampot pepper, grown on surrounding pepper plantations.
We plan to share more on Kampot, Kep and Southern Cambodia in the months ahead, after we travel down to the coast on a research trip to document the stories and recipes of local cooks for our epic Cambodian cookbook and Cambodian culinary history, which we’ve been researching for the last seven years.
We’re still seeking supporters for that project and you can become a patron on Patreon to help us complete this first-of-its-kind book for as little as the price of a cup of coffee a month. If you’re interested in culinary history, particularly that of Cambodia and Southeast Asia, please do click through to learn more about our project and why it’s important.
In the meantime, here’s a recipe for Cambodia’s stir-fried squid with green peppercorns and if you enjoy this do click through to browse our collection of Cambodian recipes or peruse all our recipes from Southeast Asia and beyond.
Squid with Green Peppercorns Recipe for Cambodia’s Famous Stir-Fry Squid with Kampot Pepper
So what makes the green peppercorns so revered in Cambodian cuisine? Grown in Kampot and Kep in Kampot province, Kampot Pepper was the first Cambodian product to receive Protected Geographical Indication in 2016. This is due to the unique terroir – the combination of the soil and growing climate unique to a region, just like a wine region in France.
And it was French chefs who first recognised the unique flavours of the dried peppers which are fragrant and fruity and have a lingering aftertaste. These days, Kampot pepper is used in the kitchens of some of the greatest restaurants in the world.
Kampot pepper is so prized that the sale of fake Kampot pepper in Cambodia is a real problem, so do look for the Protected Geographical Indication information on the labels when you’re shopping.
While the best chefs in the world prefer using the dried Kampot peppers for cooking, what they generally can’t get is the fresh bunches of green peppercorns that we have here in Cambodia. If you can’t this, any good fresh green peppercorns make a good substitute for the dish. Perhaps with less flashbacks of enjoying the dish at a waterfront shack in Kampot with a cold local beer.
Tips for Making Squid with Green Peppercorns
Good fresh squid is pretty much essential to make this stir-fried squid with green peppercorns recipe. While frozen squid is fine for some applications, but it retains too much water for this recipe to work. You can use small squids to make this dish, but it’s much more time efficient to have a big single squid to work with.
You’re going to need a very sharp knife to score the squid correctly in the criss-cross pineapple cut. I like to use my Japanese chef’s knife for this. Remember, the more precise you are, the prettier the squid will look.
As with any squid dish, there is a fine line between perfectly cooked and rubbery. Blanch the squid quickly, stir-fry it hot, and don’t cook it too long as you finish it.
Stir-Fried Squid with Green Peppercorns Recipe
- 400 g fresh squid body
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- ½ tsp palm sugar
- 1 tbsp oyster sauce
- 100 g fresh green peppercorns
- 1 small bunch holy basil
- Cut open the squid body and lay flat on your cutting board. Clean the squid and with a sharp knife make a series of cuts 5mm apart at a 45˚ angle. You want to almost cut through the squid body but leave the outside surface of the squid intact. Rotate the squid body 90˚ and make the same width cuts perpendicular to the first set of cuts. Cut the squid into 5 cm squares.
- In a large pot, bring water to a rolling boil. Have an ice bath prepared. Blanch the squid pieces for around 20 seconds. Remove and place into an ice bath until the squid has cooled down. Remove and dry the pieces. The ‘cubes’ on the surface should now be visible and the squid pieces should have curled up. The cuts in the squid not only look pretty, but it also allows the squid pieces to pick up more flavour.
- With a wok on very high heat, dry stir-fry the squid pieces until most of the moisture is removed. Remove from heat and discard the liquid left in the wok.
- Cut the green peppercorns into 6cm lengths.
- Chop and crush the garlic with a cleaver.
- Pick your holy basil leaves and have them ready for the wok.
- Mix the sugar, oyster sauce and fish sauce together. Add a little hot water to help the sugar melt.
- Heat the wok to high, add the vegetable oil and quickly stir fry the garlic and the green peppercorns. When the garlic is lightly coloured, add the squid to the wok and stir fry until the ‘cubes’ start to turn lightly golden.
- Finish with the sugar, oyster sauce and fish sauce mix. Reduce, add the basil and serve.
Do let us know if you make Cambodia’s stir-fried squid with green peppercorns recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.