"A part of Bangkok I really love is the small sliver of a neighbourhood between the busy Siam and Victory Monument shopping areas in Phetchaburi called Phaya Thai. It’s a small residential area where you get a very real sense of how people in Bangkok actually live, away from all the glitzy malls and busy tourist centres. I like a street called Soi 5, where I reckon you get some of the best street food in the city. One dish I particularly like is chargrilled squid and herb salad. Typically when I arrive in town, I stumble off the MRT stop right near Soi 5 and make a beeline for it. For me, it represents everything that I love about Thai cooking. There are women around here, selling this salad, with the assorted ingredients all prepared, ready to mix to order and be eaten. The grilled squid in this dish is light, textural and smoky, tossed with fresh lemongrass and bound in a sweet and spicy dressing. The salty/sour/spicy/sweet notes are in perfect balance." Luke Nguyen, Luke Nguyen's Street Food Asia
- 300 g cleaned squid, legs cut into individual pieces
- 2 handfuls watercress sprigs
- 50 g bean sprouts
- 10 Vietnamese mint leaves
- 10 round mint leaves
- 2 red Asian shallots, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp chopped lemongrass, white part only
- 1 tsp fried garlic
- 2 tsp garlic oil
- 2 tsp roasted rice powder
- 1 tbsp roasted peanuts
- 1 tbsp fried red Asian shallots
- 1 bird’s eye chilli, chopped
- 125 ml (½ cup) coconut water
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 70 g (½ cup) grated light palm sugar
- 1 long red chilli, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- ⅓ cup coriander leaves
- 2 cm piece ginger, chopped
- 125 ml (½ cup) lime juice
- 1 tomato, seeded, diced
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Marinating time 10 minutes
To make the dressing, in a small saucepan, place the coconut water, fish sauce, soy sauce and palm sugar. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then transfer to a mixing bowl.
In a mortar and pestle, pound the chilli, garlic, coriander leaves and ginger until a coarse paste forms. Add the paste to the mixing bowl with the dressing. Stir in the lime juice and diced tomato, then set aside.
To prepare the squid, place the squid on a chopping board, insert your knife into the top edge of the body and run the knife down to the bottom of the squid. Fold it open as you would a book. Working from the top-right of the squid to the bottom-left, score diagonal slices in the flesh, making sure not to penetrate through. Turn the squid 180 degrees and repeat the diagonal slicing so you now have a crisscross pattern. Cut the squid in half from top to bottom, turn it horizontally, and then slice through to make 5 cm-wide pieces. Place the squid in a bowl, add 3 tablespoons of the dressing, toss to coat, then set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a grill to high heat. When very hot, grill the squid on high heat for 1 minute on each side.
To make the salad, combine the watercress, bean sprouts, mint, shallot, lemongrass, garlic, garlic oil and rice powder in a bowl and turn out onto a serving platter. Dress the salad and garnish with the roasted peanuts, fried shallots and chilli to serve.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Lucy Tweed. Food preparation by Tammi Kwok.