4 to 6 servings

1½ pounds cleaned squid, bodies cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces, tentacles halved

Vegetable oil, for frying

1 cup cornstarch

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8 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon five-spice powder

1 or 2 serrano chilies, split lengthwise and sliced thinly crosswise

Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

Lime wedges, for serving

1. Rinse squid well in cold water, then drain well and pat dry with kitchen towels.

2. Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a wok or cast-iron pan. Adjust heat to maintain 375 degrees.

3. In a medium bowl, stir together cornstarch, cayenne, salt, black pepper and five-spice powder. Set bowl near stove.

4. Dip squid pieces into cornstarch mixture, one by one, and immediately slip carefully into hot oil. Let fry, making sure not to crowd the pan. (Use two pans or work in batches if necessary.) Turn pieces with tongs to ensure even cooking. When squid is lightly browned, after about two minutes, remove pieces and blot on paper towels.

5. Transfer squid to a serving bowl and sprinkle with chilies. Garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

— David Tanis, The New York Times