A Vietnamese fondue-cum-Mongolian hotpot. Use fine slivers of tender beef steak if you’re nonplussed by squid. You could just ladle this all out as a soup.
Lay the squid on a plate and sprinkle with a little chopped chilli and some coriander leaves. Gently fry the shallots and half the remaining chopped chilli in the oil without browning, then stir in the tomatoes and pineapple and fry for a minute or so more. Stir in the vinegar, lemongrass, bamboo shoots, leek, caster sugar and a litre of water, and season well with salt and fish sauce. Let this bubble for a good 5 minutes. Pour into a fondue pan or steamboat hotpot set on the table, with its fuel and flame. Using chopsticks, add some squid to the simmering pot, letting it cook for a minute or so. Ladle back into a small bowl, with a little of the broth and its goodies (minus the lemongrass). Pile on coriander and the remaining chilli, and eat.
© 2004 Alastair Hendy. All rights reserved.