A refreshing summer salad, with lingering hints of the sea
1 pound squid, on the small side, including tentacles
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon Thai chili powder, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons very finely minced hearts of lemongrass
4 cloves garlic, minced to a paste
2 inner celery stalks, cut into julienne strips
3 slices purple onion (about 1/4-inch each), broken into rings
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
10 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
leafy green lettuce as a base
1. Clean the squid (see page 373), or have the fishmonger do it for you. Cut the tentacles into several serving pieces. Cut the main part of the squid into two long halves. Score each half with a sharp knife, making a diamond pattern. Then cut the halves into strips that are approximately 2 inches by 1/2 inch.
2. Add the oil to a large, hot sauté pan over high heat. When the oil is sizzling, add the squid. Sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the squid has rendered some liquid and the liquid has evaporated. Remove squid and toss with chili powder, salt, lemongrass, and garlic. Let cool.
3. Just before serving, toss squid with celery and purple onion. Mix together the lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar, and add to squid mixture. Toss with mint leaves and cilantro. Lay salad on a bed of leafy green lettuce (either on a platter or on individual plates), and serve immediately.
Serves 4 as a first course