Squid Tempura and Vietnamese Dipping Sauce by Roy Brett of Ondine

I can’t believe we’re entering into our tenth year at Ondine. What was once a dream, to have our very own fish restaurant in the heart of the old town in Edinburgh is now a thriving reality and we’ve never looked back.

The restaurant population in Scotland’s capital is overflowing at the moment. What is encouraging for us and other independent establishments is the fact that despite the arrival of the large chains from around the world, we continue to grow. Our continued support from our regular customers has been key to Ondine’s success. We have guests who first came during our launch and who have now become friends rather than customers, as we value each visit as much as their first.

While the chain restaurants continue to descend on Edinburgh, it’s fantastic to see so many independent restaurants standing the test of time in Scotland. Without a recognisable name to rely on, we have to work hard to establish our reputation, with fantastic food and front of house service that conveys our passion. At Ondine, we like to create classic dishes with a modern twist and make the very best of local, seasonal ingredients. Our customers know that each time they visit, they will experience a taste of Scotland and the best the land and sea around us has to offer.

Squid tempura is our most popular starter at Ondine… as well as a personal favourite of mine! It came about by taking a delicious Vietnamese dipping sauce, which I borrowed from my days in Cornwall working with Rick and Jill Stein. I then added the light tempura batter with the medicinal notes from the Szechuan pepper, which really lifts the squid. We also have this dish on the menu at The Fishmarket, down at Newhaven Harbour. I think the smell of the fresh, salty sea air adds a special twist to the taste, but you’ll need your hat and scarf on to enjoy it al fresco now that the temperature has dipped.

The squid itself is landed at Peterhead and we get it from our friends and supplier, Welch Fishmongers. When buying squid, ask your local fish merchant to clean it for you as it makes the dish much easier to prepare and saves you a job! This time of year is perfect for squid as the body is still thin and so it has a soft and delicate texture. It makes the recipe truly delicious! As the nights draw in and the temperature starts to drop, this makes a lovely, light starter for a dinner party and the dipping sauce gives a real zing to surprise and delight your guests.

Squid Tempura and Vietnamese Dipping Sauce

Serves 4


For the dipping sauce:

100ml fish sauce

100g palm sugar

50ml rice wine vinegar

100ml lime juice

10g garlic, finely chopped

10g green chilli, finely chopped

10g ginger, finely chopped

1 tsp corn flour


For the crispy batter:

70g corn flour

30g plain flour

100ml ice cold sparkling water

5 ice cubes, crushed

Pinch Szechuan pepper

Pinch Maldon sea salt

Rapeseed oil for deep-frying

For the squid:

2 squid, washed and cleaned

1 green chilli, sliced into rings

1 banana shallot, sliced into rings

For the garnish:

1 lime, cut into wedges


1.First, make the dipping sauce. Bring together the fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar, vinegar and 100ml water in a saucepan and bring to boil. Mix the corn flour into a paste with a little water and then add to the pan. As the mixture starts to cool down, add the chillies, ginger and garlic and mix well then set aside.

2.Next, make the batter. Mix the flours and the salt and pepper together. Add the sparkling water and crushed ice cubes and mix well until combined.

3.Heat the oil in a pan to 180°C. Dip the squid and the chilli into the batter along with the shallots. Fry in the oil until crisp. Once cooked, carefully shake off any excess oil before lying on a drying cloth or kitchen paper. Season well with salt and pepper.

4.To serve, pour a little dipping sauce into a pretty little pot and then place the squid around it. Garnish the plate with the chilli and shallot rings and finish with a wedge of lime.