Few things could be simpler than this stir-fry. All you need is a tempered wok, fresh ingredients, a fierce flame – and, of course, the finest soy sauce. Tempering the wok is important, as it helps to create the smoky taste that is essential for a successful stir-fry. It’s quite easy to do – you just burn the hell out of a Chinese wok. The wok must be made of carbon steel, which is generally the best, cheapest, lightest to wield and easiest to find wok in any Chinatown. While you’re there, get a bamboo brush for cleaning your newly tempered wok without scratching it and breaking the seal. Place your brand-new wok over a high heat and burn it. It’ll take some time but keep it on the heat until the wok is smoking, possibly flickering with a small flame. Don’t worry, though – this is what’s meant to happen. Keep on moving the wok, making sure that as much of it as possible is subject to the same grilling. Now wash it out with cold water and brush it clean with the bamboo brush, and you’re ready to cook. Make sure to open the doors and windows or the fire alarm might object to the tempering.
Add the chilli to the garlic paste, bruising it slightly to release the flavour.
Heat a well-seasoned wok over a high flame. Add the oil, then almost immediately add the squid and stir-fry for 30 seconds before adding the garlic paste and chilli. Stir-fry briskly - being careful not to let the garlic burn. Add the spring onion, and perhaps a drizzle of additional oil, then continue to stir-fry for a moment or two until it becomes quite dry and sizzles. Moisten with the stock or water, then season with the soy sauce, sugar and pepper.
Serve with steamed rice.
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