Making stuffed squid is a little fussy, but the work isn’t difficult. For this Vietnamese dish, the squid bodies are cleaned, stuffed with a flavourful mixture of minced pork and mung bean noodles with spring onions, fresh coriander and fish sauce, then simmered until cooked. To serve, cut them into thick slices and served with a fish-sauce-based dip.
Put the mung bean vermicelli in a bowl, add enough cool water to cover and leave to soak while preparing the other ingredients.
Clean the squid. Pull the head and tentacles straight from the body, then scoop out and discard the guts and quill. Cut off and discard the beak and eyes from the tentacles. Pull off and discard the tough membrane from the body. Rinse the body inside and out with cool water, then trim off the two fins. Chop the fins into small pieces and put them in a mixing bowl.
Drain the mung bean vermicelli and squeeze out the excess water. Use scissors to cut the vermicelli into short lengths. Put the vermicelli in the bowl with the fins, then add the minced pork.
Finely mince the garlic and spring onions, and roughly chop the coriander. Add these ingredients to the bowl.
Add the fish sauce, sugar, white pepper and salt, and combine thoroughly. Bring a small pan of water to the boil, poach a teaspoonful of the mixture and taste for seasonings. Correct, if necessary.
Spoon the mixture into the squid bodies, stuffing them lightly but evenly. Do not pack in the mixture too tightly or the squid might burst when cooked. Leave about 5mm (¼ in) headspace at the top and secure with a toothpick so the filling doesn’t come out. If there’s any extra filling, shape it into small meatballs.
Make the poaching liquid. Thinly slice the garlic and put the pieces in a skillet that’s wide enough to fit all the squid in one layer. Slit open the chillies leaving them intact at the stem, and shake out as many seeds as possible. Cut the spring onions into 5cm (2 in) lengths. Put the chillies, spring onion and coriander stems into the skillet with the garlic, then add the fish sauce, sugar and 150ml (⅔ cup) of water. Stir, then bring to a boil over a medium flame.
Place the stuffed squid in one layer in the skillet, then cover it with the lid and lower the flame. Simmer for about five minutes, then turn the squid over. Add the squid tentacles and meatballs, cover with the lid and simmer for three to five more minutes.
While the squid is cooking, make the dipping sauce. Mix the fish sauce with the lime juice, vinegar and sugar, and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Mince the garlic and slice the chillies into thin rings, shaking out and discarding the seeds as you go. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasonings, if necessary, then add the garlic and chillies.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the squid bodies, tentacles and meatballs from the liquid, and drain them briefly. Remove the toothpicks from the squid bodies. Slice the bodies about 1cm (7/16 in) thick and arrange the pieces on a serving dish. Add the meatballs and tentacles, then garnish with lime wedges, fresh chillies, spring onion and coriander sprigs.
Serve with the dipping sauce on the side.