Vietnamese Stuffed Squid

I am a fan of squid, especially stuffed squid, and this recipe does not disappoint. While other stuffings can be mushy the cellophane noodles used here give the filling just the right amount of tooth. In addition to the great texture, the acidity and sweetness from the Ginger Lime Dipping Sauce complements beautifully the bold flavors of ginger and fish sauce used in the filling. Can be served as an appetizer or eat a lot as a main course. Yum.

Stuffed Squid with Ginger-Lime Dipping Sauce
Based on the recipe in Into the Vietnamese Kitchen by Andrea Nguyen

1 ½ lb. small squid (about 3”), bodies and tentacles
2 T vegetable oil for pan frying

Tentacles from squid above, minced
½ lb. ground pork
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for about 2 hours, stems removed and caps minced
1.3 ounces cellophane noodles*, cooked according to package directions, drained and chopped fine
½ small onion, minced
½ t peeled and minced ginger
2 t fish sauce
Pinch black pepper
¼ t sugar

Ginger Lime Dipping Sauce
2” piece of ginger, peeled and minced
5 T lime juice (2-3 limes)
2 T sugar
2 T fish sauce

In a small bowl combine the ingredients for the dipping sauce and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Adjust the flavors to your taste. Set aside and let sit to develop the flavors while preparing the stuffed squid.

In another small bowl combine the ingredients for the stuffing, mixing well to distribute evenly.

Stuffing the squid
A great tip from the author of this cookbook is to first cut off the very tip of the pointy end of the squid to allow the air to escape when filling the cavity. (Be careful not to make the hole too big that the stuffing falls out.) Also cut a small strip off the top of the squid to make the top opening a little larger. Use a small utensil to stuff the cavities full but not over full or packed tight. Secure the top with a toothpick, inserting along the top as you would a pin into a piece of cloth. Set on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess moisture.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squid to the hot pan and brown on all sides, turning as needed, about 2-3 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and finish cooking, turning them again as needed to cook evenly.  After about 10 minutes the squid will have become tight and shrunken. Let sit on a plate for a few minutes to cool. When they are cool enough to handle, cut in half and serve with the dipping sauce.

*Cellophane noodles are made from mung beans and sometimes sold as bean threads. Do not use rice noodles for this recipe or you’ll have a mushy stuffing. See Cellophane Noodles with Crab for my cellophane/rice noodle experience.

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