The actual name of this salad is Spicy Squid, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad. It contains nam prik pao, a Thai chile pepper paste, which is why I shortened the recipe name to a Thai squid salad. If you haven’t enjoyed nam prik pao before, like me, be prepared to fall in love with yet another chile pepper!
This recipe comes from the book Red Hot Kitchen, by Diana Kuan, published in 2019.
From this cookbook, I’ve made Fish Tacos with Yuzu Kosho Slaw, and Salmon with Sweet Ginger Sauce. The book, which I love, is all about making classic Asian chili sauces and dishes to make with those sauces.
I think I especially wanted to make this salad because I personally can’t get enough squid in my diet. And what a wonderful combination of salad ingredients!
From the author: “Nam prik pao offers an earthy, savory contrast to the light, tangy, and minty flavors in this summery salad. (It’s unfortunately still summer where I live!) This is also a lightning-fast dish to make; the longest time is spent trimming the squid into bite-size rings and short pieces.”
This delicious salad does require some knowledge about cleaning squid. Below the recipe is an easy tutorial.
Spicy Squid, Cucumber, and Tomato Salad
1/2 pound cleaned squid
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 Persian cucumbers (mini)
8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small shallot
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 fresh bird’s eye chili, minced
2 tablespoons nam prik pao
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
Lime wedges, for serving
With a sharp knife or kitchen shears, slice the body of the squid into rings about 1/2” wide. Trim the tentacles into 2-3” lengths. (My tentacles didn’t require any trimming.)_Pat the squid dry with clean kitchen towels.
In a large bowl, whisk together the fish sauce and lime juice. Toss the cucumbers, tomatoes, and shallot in the fish sauce mixture and transfer to a serving dish.
Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the chili and nam prik pao and stir-fry just until aromatic, 10-20 seconds.
Add the squid and stir-fry until the edges begin to curl, 1-2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and transfer the squid to the cucumbers and tomatoes on the serving dish.
Add the mint leaves and give everything a quick toss.
Serve with additional lime wedges.
Squid Cleaning Tutorial:
To begin, grab the head with one hand, and the body with the other. Give a gentle twist and pull the innards out of the body that are attached to the head.
Then grab the squid bodies and remove the long piece of pointy cartilage by giving a slight pull.
Cut the heads right above the eyes to trim the tentacles. The ink pouches will be cut, but I didn’t need to keep this for any reason. Remove any hard parts within the heads with your knife.
Grab the bodies and remove the skin. It helps if you put your finger inside the bodies.
Then remove the fins at the side of the squid bodies. They’re easy to remove.
Rinse the bodies and tentacles, with special attention to the body insides. Make sure they are empty. Then dry on paper towels before cooking.