Day 117 – BFF’s with the next door neighbours! – celebrated with stir-fried salt and pepper squid….

I have quietly simmered away for the last 6 months.  We arrived here in October (to be more precise, at Halloween) to discover our french next door neighbours had erected yet another shed in their back yard, this time over 2 foot higher than our fence and painted a hideous blue and white with a lot of plastic sheeting.  I did a witches dance in the back yard, wailing about bloody neighbours and swearing heavily at the awfully erected monstrosity (probably a bit like Prince Charles does on a regular basis!), but was restrained from marching round there by my Hubbie on the premis that he would look into it.

We went to the commune twice over the last 6 months.  Oh yes, illegal, but they’ve done nothing about it.  In the meantime, the relationship over the fence has soured, as I skulk and frown on a regular basis.  Finally Hubbie got the message.  Go to the Commune and register a formal complaint (lots of fun in France we reckoned), or stick your head over the fence and talk.

The talking worked.  He explained we are not prepared to look at it any more, and they have offered to extend our fence to cover it.  Great I said, BUT Hubbie has to do it as his DIY skills are far superior to theirs.

All agreed, all happy, and yesterday we received our first peace offering on the road towards sitting on their terrace in the summer drinking spirits heavily in the evening.  2 Squid!!

Landed off our beach on a daily basis, these two set out everyday in their dinghy to raise the net at this time of year.  Great…..home caught fish, living off the sea, and supposedly cleaning up the terrace to keep the neighbours (ie. us) happy.  We shall see, in the summer.  But in the meantime, after a great squid dinner last night, they qualify as my new BFF’s!!


Stir-fried salt and pepper squid

First job is to tackle preparing the squid, unless you purchased ready prepared (but why take away the fun!).  Check out Rick Steins Seafood cookbook for step by step instructions (my bible) or use the internet.  It’s not that difficult and actually quiet relaxing while drinking a G&T on the terrace in the sunshine.

Then start the recipe…..



*750g/1½lb squid, cleaned (the best are donated from the freshly caught catch of your neighbours!)

*½ tsp black peppercorns

*½ tsp sichuan peppercorns (I used 1 tsp of black peppercorns in total as no sichuan in my store cupboard!)

*1 tsp sea salt flakes

*1-2 tbsp sunflower oil (I used Olive oil)

*1 medium-hot red finger chilli, thinly sliced (seeds removed if you prefer) – here I substituted 1 tsp mild chilli powder, and 1 tsp 5 spice powder (as my local supermarket was out of chilli’s the day after a bank holiday weekend, after all, this is France!)

*3 spring onions, sliced

For the Salad

*1/2 cucumber

*a handful beansprouts (again no chance in my supermarket!)

*a large handful watercress – I substituted roquette and salad leaves

*¼tsp caster sugar

*a pinch of salt


Preparation method

1.  For the salad, cut the cucumber lengthways into short strips. Toss with the beansprouts and watercress and set aside in the fridge until needed.

2.  Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and salt.

3.  Cut along one side of each squid pouch and open it out flat. Score the inner side in a diamond pattern with the tip of a small, sharp knife and then cut into 5cm/2inch squares. Separate the tentacles if large.

4.  Heat a small, heavy-based frying pan over a high heat. Add the black peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns and dry-roast them for a few seconds, shaking the pan now and then, until they darken slightly and become aromatic. Tip into a mortar and crush coarsely with the pestle, then stir in the sea salt flakes.

5.  Heat a wok over a high heat until smoking. Add half the oil and half the squid and stir-fry it for 2 minutes, until lightly coloured. Tip on to the plate, then cook the remaining squid in the same way.

6.  Return the first batch of squid to the wok and add 1 tsp of the salt and pepper mixture (the rest can be used in other stir fries).

7.  Toss together for about 10 seconds, then add the red chilli and spring onions and toss together very briefly. Divide the squid between 4 serving plates. Toss the salad with the dressing and pile alongside the squid, then serve immediately.

The leftovers also made a delicious salad served cold at lunch today..


adapted via BBC – Food – Recipes : Stir-fried salt and pepper squid.

Recipes – Rick Stein.

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