700g whole squid
12 large raw, shell-on prawns
24 (about 250g) whitebait
3 free-range egg whites
250ml sparkling water
1 litre vegetable oil, for deep-frying
enough Italian 00 flour to coat the fish
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Wash the squid and pull the tentacles from inside the body. Remove the guts, the gladius, sometimes called the pen (a sort of plastic-like quill that is the creature’s internal skeleton) and the ink sac. Cut off the beaky part of the head just above the tentacles. Remove the membrane from the body and cut off the wings. Cut the squid into 1.5–2cm rings, and the wings into the same width. Cut the tentacles into 5cm pieces. Wash the prawns and peel off their shell but leave the head and tail on. Wash the whitebait, leaving them whole. Mix the seafood together carefully in a large bowl.
Lightly whisk the egg whites and sparkling water together. Pour the oil to half fill a deep pan and start to heat it up to 190°C (or until a cube of bread dropped in the oil turns golden in less than a minute). Now, immerse all the seafood, one handful at a time, into the egg white and sparkling water mix. Roll in flour and use a basket or sieve to shake off any excess flour.
Make sure your vegetable oil is very hot and carefully place a handful at a time of the coated seafood in the oil for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until very lightly golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with fine salt and serve with a good wedge of lemon.
Recipe taken from Polpo, published by Bloomsbury, £25, Hardback
Photography © Jenny Zarins