Vietnamese Sweet and Sour Squid - Muc Xao Chua Ngot
Moderate - You'll be right
Nuances in Vietnamese cuisine can be found throughout different areas of Vietnam. Classified as regional Vietnamese cuisine, a classic example is pho (Vietnamese beef noodle soup). Northern Vietnamese pho (Ha Noi Pho) is generally speaking lighter in flavor than bowls of pho found in the South of Vietnam. Another example is the high prevalence of mi quang (rice noodle dish) in Central Vietnam (Da Nang) compared to the rest of Vietnam.
Mực xào chua ngọt (Vietnamese sweet and sour squid) is a dish wildly popular on the streets and dining tables of Phu Quoc; an island off the southern coast of Vietnam. Expect fresh squid stir fried with succulent pieces of pineapple, tomatoes, fragrant and textural water celery and seasoned with anchovy salt, premium fish sauce and Kansom scallop sea sauce.
This delicious dish can also be found in certain areas of Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) and fortunately my grandma acquired the recipe. My first encounter with this dish was as a child, when grandma made it for the entire family with some freshly caught squid off the southern coast of Australian (Yorke Peninsula). What I found most memorable, was how well the natural sweetness from the squid paired with the tangy flavours from the pineapple and tomato.
Umami filled ingredients plays a big role in pairing the flavours of the sea with the flavours of the land. In this recipe the use of anchovy salt, fish sauce and Kansom’s scallop sea sauce complement the squids natural flavours whilst adding a savoury element to pineapple and tomatoes. The moreish umami sauce that forms is delicious when served on a bed of steamed rice.
The preparation of the squid is key to obtaining maximum flavor when devouring this dish. Adding criss-cross cuts into the squid will allow the umami stir frying sauce to stick to the squid. For those who are seeking a further enhanced textural experience with this dish, utilize the whole squid (legs and wings). My favourite part of the squid are the wings, they have a bit of bite and chew to them which is something I and along with the majority of Vietnamese people love.
If you love squid and are looking for a change up from the classic salt and pepper squid, do yourself a favour and grab some anchovy salt, premium fish sauce and Kansom scallop sea sauce to experience umami flavours with squid that’s on another level.
6 tablespoons neutral cooking oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 medium squid tubes
¼ teaspoon anchovy salt
2 tablespoons Kansom scallop sea sauce
1 small green capsicum, cut into chunks
1 small pineapple cut into small chunks
½ tablespoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tomato cut into wedges
1 bunch water celery, chopped 4-5cm long or 3 celery stalks thinly sliced
1 bunch spring onions, cut into batons
½ tablespoon potato/corn starch
1 tablespoon water
Freshly ground black pepper
1 birds eye chilli, sliced (optional)
½ bunch coriander (optional)
Steamed rice to serve
1. With a sharp knife split open squid tubes and make fine criss-cross incisions then cut into large bite sized pieces
Duncan’s tip: Utilize the whole squid for textural parts such as the legs and wings.
2. In a large frying pan or wok add 3 tablespoons oil and garlic, sauté on medium heat until fragrant then add squid and ¼ teaspoon anchovy salt, 1 tablespoon Kansom scallop sea sauce and stir fry for 1 minute or until squid is half cooked through then remove and set aside.
3. Return frying pan to medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons oil then capsicum, spring onion stalks, pineapple, 1 tablespoon Kansom scallop sea sauce, ½ tablespoon fish sauce, sea salt and sugar and stir fry for 1-2 minutes then add tomatoes, water celery, remaining spring onions and squid and stir fry for 30 seconds.
4. Finally mix potato starch and water in a small mixing bowl to make a slurry then add to stir fry to thicken, stir fry on high for 1 minute then remove from heat.
Duncan’s tip: If there is not too much moisture in the stir fry, this step can be omitted.
5. Season with black pepper and garnish with fresh red chilli and coriander.
6. Serve with freshly steamed rice or with side dishes listed below.
Side dish options:
• Luffa & dried shrimp stir fry
• Zucchini stir fry
• Vietnamese braised fish
• Vietnamese air fryer eggplant
• Vietnamese caramelized pork