Recipes Salad

Squid Salad with Ambarella Leaves & Grilled Lemongrass Beef Served with Fine Rice Vermicelli

Professor Tran van Khe once commented that the “Vietnamese [are] best at knowing how to eat in an all-round manner, meaning eat using all five senses. First of all, eat with the eyes: the food is presented in an eye-catching way, full of colors and in an attractive format. Then eat by the nose: aroma rises from the food, from the fish sauce for dipping, from aromatic herbs, scented vegetables or the cassia cicada essence. Afterwards, the tongue touches the food, soft like rice noodle, chewy like boiled pork, crunchy like bean sprouts, cabbage, or jellyfish. At times, when chewing crunchy stuff like peanuts, the ears catch the crunch-crunch sounds. If not hearing from inside, then one hears from outside, like the crackling of roasted rice-paper cake. After seeing, smelling, hearing we begin tasting and enjoying the dish flavors by our tongues.”. The Golden Spoon introduces one of those dishes for such “usingall-your-senses” eating: Squid Salad with Ambarella Leaves Served with Grilled Lemongrass Beef and Fine Rice-Vermicelli. Let’s enjoy this deli under the cooking guidance of the chef of Tropicana Restaurant, Vung Tau.


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Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:


  • 400g fresh big-fin reef squid
  • 150g young ambarella leaves
  • 100g red onions
  • 50g red chili pepper
  • 5g green tiny chili pepper
  • 10g minced garlic
  • 15g sesame
  • 20g lime extract
  • 40g sugar
  • 40g fish sauce
  • 100g onions
  • 10g gingers
  • 800ml water
  • 10g cilantro
  • 200g beef filet
  • 300g lemongrass (whole stem)
  • 10g ground lemongrass
  • 10g ground garlic
  • 3g minced chili pepper
  • 20ml soya sauce
  • 10ml oyster sauce
  • 0,3g five-spice powder
  • 10ml cooking oil
  • 1g seasoning powder



Preparation: Clean the squid, make shallow traces on the flesh like with a pineapple. Break off the stems from ambarella leaves, rinse well, soak in salted water for 15 minutes, take out and drain. Remove the seeds then julienne the red chili pepper. Roast the sesame till lightly browned. Peel the red pearl onions and cut into rings, 2mm thick. Peel the onions and cut in wedges. Skin off the ginger, rinse well, and then pound it. Slice the beef filet thinly. Rinse the lemon grass, and then cut into chunks of 10cm in length.

Mix the salad: Put 800ml water together with the onion and ginger into a pot, bring to boil, then put in the squid and boil till cooked. Take the squid out, rinse again for cooling and avoiding blackening. Once the squid is cool, slice it into pieces of 5mm thick.

Blend 20ml of lime extract with 40g sugar and 40ml fish sauce, stir to dissolve to have a sweet-sour sauce, adjust the spices if need be. Then add 10g minced garlic and 5g minced chili, stir well. Put the slices of squid into a salad bowl together with the red onion slices, red chili strings and ambarella leaves. Gradually pour in the fish sauce, toss well for the squid to absorb the flavor from the spices, taste to favor, sprinkle the sesame on, and mix all well.

Grill the beef: Marinate the beef slices in a bowl with 20ml of soy sauce, 10ml oyster sauce, 10g ground garlic, 10g ground lemongrass, 3g minced chili, 0.3g five-spice powder, 1g seasoning powder and 10g cooking oil. Mix well all these for the beef to absorb the spices in 15 minutes. After that, wrap each slice of beef around a chunk of lemon grass, or split the stump of the lemon grass chunk to clamp the beef; then grill the beef on a charcoal oven.


Place the salad on one side of a serving plate, sprinkle some sesame on top, garnish with cilantro; place the grilled beef on the other side, serve with sweet- sour dipping fish sauce.


The salad mix fully absorbs spices; the fresh squid maintains its natural sweetness, not chewy; the young ambarella leaves render a mild sour flavor.

The beef absorbs spices, is properly done, not dry nor rubbery.


Choose the big-fin reef squid that is fresh and of bright skin; the ambarella leaves are young ones.

Choose beef filet or beef brisket.


This dish combines nutritional effects of beef, squid, ambarella leaves, lemon grass, pearl onion and spices. It can nourish the blood, tonify Yin, enhance inner body organs, tonify Qi. It is good for persons with weakened body strength, anemia, diminished body resistance, poor digestion, and diabetes; for males with weakened sexual activities, osteoporosis, joint pain, constipation; for asthenic pregnant women with low breast milk secretion; for patients in convalescence; for skinny kids and the elderly.



HOANG MANH DANG Restaurant of Tropicana Beach Resort & Spa (Vung Tau City) Runner-up in the Southern regional semifinal round of the Golden Spoon Awards 2013

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