During my holiday in southern Spain I ordered grilled squid, calamares à la plancha, continuously. I ordered on autopilot and there I was reminded how much I appreciate squid. I prefer them over shrimp. In Saigon, I had fried squid with tamarind sauce as a starter. How easy the dish looks like and is, it brought a lot of satisfaction to our dinner table. Especially delicious as a snack with a fresh (alcoholic) drink. Delicious with a simple salad.

Ingredients

  • 6 squids
  • oil

Batter

  • 50 g flour or rice flour
  • pinch of salt
  • black pepper

Tamarind fish sauce
The amount of water depends on the tamarind brand and personal taste.

  • 50 g tamarinde paste
  • 75 ml boiled water (+ extra in kettle)
  • ½ red pepper or 1 bird’s eye chilli (for more heat), thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1½ tbsp fish sauce

Preparation

  1. Add the tamarind and boiled water in a bowl. Let stand for about half an hour. Mash the tamarind so the pieces come loose and dissolve in the water. I prefer a thick tamarind juice, pour extra hot water to taste. Strain the tamarind juice in a bowl.
  2. Pull the tentacles from the body of the squids, remove the core and inside and pat dry with kitchen paper. The inside of the squid is very tasty, but with frying the inside causes gunk. Cut the squid into 3 or 4 pieces, depending on the size. It does not matter whether the speckled skin is removed. It always depend on my time.
  3. Make the batter by putting the flower or rice flower, salt and black pepper in a large bowl and mix well. Put the pieces of squid with the tentacles into the batter and mix well again.
  4. Add the chilli, garlic, sugar and fish sauce in the bowl with tamarind juice. Stir well until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and season with extra sugar, fish sauce or tamarind juice. I tend to make the tamarind sauce sweet for this dish.
  5. Heat oil in a pan. Make sure the oil is hot. Be careful, frying and grilling squid can be pretty splashy. Deep-fry the squid in stages, depending on the size of the pan, about 7 minutes until the squid is nicely crisp. Toss the squid in a colander so that the excess oil can drain. Dip into the tamarind sauce.
Fried squid with tamarind juice (foto: Kim Le Cao © Pho Vietnam)