We ate this simple but perfect quick dish for lunch in a cafe overlooking the white sands of China Beach near Hue. Vietnamese seafood is incredibly sweet and succulent. To make this dish taste almost as good as it does in Vietnam, cook the squid very briefly to keep it tender, and add a little sugar.
Put a large serving bowl in a low oven to warm. Slice the squid pouches thinly across into rings, leaving the tentacles whole; set aside.
For the dipping sauce, cut the chilli open lengthways under running water and discard the seeds and stem. Peel the ginger and garlic and then chop them, together with the chilli, very finely. Tip into a small shallow serving dish and add the rice vinegar and fish sauce, stirring to combine.
Now chop the mint leaves fairly small; put to one side. Crush the black peppercorns and sea salt together coarsely, using a pestle and mortar.
Just before serving, pour some water into the bottom of a large, wide steamer and bring to a fierce boil. (Or you could use two smaller steamers.) Once boiling, put the squid in the steamer basket and set it over the water. Cover tightly and steam for a minute, or two at the most, until the squid just turns opaque.
Immediately turn the squid into a bowl and sprinkle in the caster sugar, pepper and sea salt, and the chopped mint. Toss to mix, then pile into the warmed serving bowl.
Serve at once, with the dipping sauce alongside for everyone to dip their forkfuls of squid into.
© 2010 Josceline Dimbleby. All rights reserved.