Mực Nướng Thái Thai Grilled Squid – 146 of 365

Squid Grilling

People watching in Saigon always proves a fascinating glimpse into the controlled chaos constantly ebbing and flowing out there in the streets.  While watching the world haphazrdly drift on by at Loan at 37 Ly Tu Trung Street, I noticed the surrounding sidewalks explode into all out panic mode.   I mean this was crazier than the normal crazy simmering out there on the pavement.  Have you ever seen the wave go around a stadium?   Well, imagine a similar scene washing down a street as vendors jump up and scatter one by one while motorbikes careen from pedestrian zone back to where they should travel in the street.

Neighbor quickly telegraphs word to neighbor that some sort of enforcement patrol is about to sweep on through doing whatever it is they do.  For a few minutes the usual maelstrom collapses into a sterile copy of what we might find in a more benign US city.  Even Loan’s smoking grill was schlepped indoors for a few minutes.  Fear not though for the circus parade reemerges stronger than ever once some hidden sentinel gives word all is clear.

Mực Nướng Thái

This colorful appetizer of sidewalk people watching had nothing on my fiery mực nướng Thái though.  Thai style grilled squid commences its journey shaped much like one of those hot water bottles you fill up and stick on whatever body part is aching.  Cutting its cylindrical body down the middle and flattening it out lends this oval appearance very different from what we are accustomed to in the US with our tiny fried calamari rings.

A red marinade drips off this ocean going piece of rubber as it is laid to final rest in a grill basket atop hot coals.  Once the squid is properly charred, the grillmaster uses scissors to create long thin strips out of what was once an entire oval.  Whether these shears were sterilized or not soon would become the least of my worries.  I bit into the squid and detected a faint hit of lemongrass and this split second of slight sourness is the last taste my tongue remembers.

With each subsequent bite, the scorching burn escalated until my taste buds were finally nuked into oblivion by whatever laces this red marinade from hell.   Have you ever downed something so spicy that just touching tongue to teeth is painful?  If a simple coating of pepper can do such a number on the mouth, I shudder to imagine its blistering aftermath as it descends into the body’s more sensitive depths.   I prayed my insides would not later erupt into rebellion as I chugged two bottles of water in a pain management attempt to dilute this fiery mess.

A numb tongue, lips on fire, and a forehead full of sweat…Mực nướng Thái is the perfect meal.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

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