Thursday, June 23, 2016

Grilled Dried Squid--my cousin's way

My cousins, nephews and I visited a few temples in Bạc Liêu (a city about 35 miles southwest of Sóc Trăng (Vietnam). My cousins hired an SUV and a driver to take us around. This is a typical mode of transportation for group of people in Vietnam to travel together. Very few people have the luxury to own a car and most do not know how to drive a 4-wheel vehicle. Most people own a scooter since this is the most economical way to get around on a daily basis. Initially my cousins and I were talking about riding scooters to Bạc Liêu along the highway as a group since it would be more fun and we could easily stop in many more places. However, in the end my cousins decided against this idea. I was glad we went by car since that last week that I was in Vietnam I was taking 2-3 cold showers a day because the weather was so hot and humid. After a 3 month stay and being careful with sun protection I managed to get a bad sunburn on my shoulders anyway.

Although Bạc Liêu is situated on the ocean I did not see much of an ocean view. There was plenty of fresh seafood for sale along the side of the road and by the temple but nothing seemed eye catching. I guess I know that I can either self-harvest or buy fresh and clean seafood once I return home (to the States). 

a few of my cousins and nephews
We visited two temples, Nhà Thờ Cha Diệp and Phật Bà Nam Hải so my cousins could worship/pray. In between the 2 temple visits we had a picnic with the prepared food made by cousin Ngọc. There are huge public eating areas with tables, chairs, running water, sinks, and electrical outlets. At Nhà Thờ Cha Diệp I noticed the other visitors actually brought their rice cookers! The 10 of us (including our driver) took up 2 tables. We spread out what Ngọc made; fresh steamed rice, sauteed chicken with ginger, and Vietnamese dessert made from agar agar (gelatin). My cousin Khiêm and our driver grilled the dried squid by lighting rubbing alcohol that has been poured in a metal tray. We forgot to pack along chopsticks so our driver used 2 spoons to hold the squid together. I do not recommend this method of grilling since you can easily burn your fingers/hand from the hot metal. I found a ficus tree nearby and managed to break off a 2-foot aerial root that was hanging from a branch. I gave this to Khiêm and he tied the dried squid with the root. Because the root is still live the squid was grilled and the root was not burned. Khiêm said this worked great!

my nephew and his coffee
this iced coffee is mine
We also did not bring any hot chili peppers. When the next table heard this they gave us a few! Sometimes it pays to be loud! After a delicious and filling lunch we explored the grounds and before leaving had home-made iced coffee under the shaded tree next to our parked SUV. My cousins brought black coffee in a bottle and made all of us the tastiest coffee found in Bạc Liêu that day! Sometimes the most memorable dishes and drinks are simple and enjoyed in good company and setting. Special thanks to cousins Khiêm, Ngọc, Tâm, Siếu Hủi, Miền Lái, Son and our driver & friend Hải!
grilling squid--my cousin's way
grilling squid--my cousin's way
grilled dried squid
Grilled Dried Squid--my cousin's way


Dried squids


Grill each squid over low heat for about a minute. Avoid burning the squid.

*There are many ways to eat these squids. You can tear the grilled squid into small pieces and eat it plain or along with beer. Some people dip it into a tamarind sauce. Others may shred it and add to mango salad.

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