vietnamese-style warm squid salad

15-20 minutes start to finish.  This illustrates flavor combinations and delivery.  The salad is just a way to deliver it.  The base could also easily be used to dress pasta, make pizza, dress skirt steak, make soup, etc.  The warm salad is just a little bit of a departure from the concept of salad that I grew up with as it combines cooked items with raw.  Any quick sautee’ can be added to a salad, and the cooked ingredients and oil can be used to make a rough vinaigrette.

From 2010-07-18

How to

1/2 pound of squid tubes and tentacles. Cut the tubes into 1/2 inch circles, about the size of fried calamari that you’ve probably had.
1/2 yellow onion
1 stick of lemongrass, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp of minced ginger
1/4 cup of minced cilantro for garnish
salad greens
lemon or lime juice
salt as needed

Sautee the onion and lemongrass over low to medium heat. The goal is softening, not browning. Add the ginger and garlic and raise the heat. Whatever you do, don’t let the garlic burn. Remove that stuff from the pan, add some fresh oil, and raise the heat to your oil’s smoke point.

Cooking squid

There are two ways to cook squid, and octopus, and unfortunately, there’s no middle road.
The first is to make sure the squid is good and dry and sautee’ over high heat. Cook only as long as it takes to turn from translucent to opaque. If you let it get any further than this, it will be tough. There’s a trick to this, and it’s getting the highest heat you can and making sure the squid is dry, or else it will steam. If it does, it’s OK, but like any meat, anytime you can create the Maillard reaction and get a little browning, the flavor will definitely be elevated.
The second is either a long stew or braise until tender. If you’ve ever had cioppino, that’s what it is: stewed squid in a spicy tomato broth. A San Francisco wharf classic. There are other ways to do it like sous vide and slow poached, but that’s beyond the scope of this post.

Once the squid is done, recombine it with the sauteed veggies, add a little extra oil and lemon or lime juice and stir it all together. Taste for seasoning, salt as needed. Optionally add black or chile peppers and garnish with cilantro and mint if you have some. You could even get crazy and add basil. This is basically a veggie sauteed vinaigrette with which you’ll dress your salad. Hey, there’s no rule that says that all vinaigrette has to be acid and oil with seasoning. Put whatever you want in there. That’s the basis of the warm salad.

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