There are two main kinds of stuffed squid in Vietnam: one is flavored with Five Spice and served with dark brown sauce(Muc nhoi/don thit pha lau) and one without five spice which is usually served with tomato sauce or nuoc mam cham (dipping fish sauce). Shrimp is used with pork in stuffing sometimes.
Make 4 servings in a multiple course meal or as an appetizer
1.5 lb medium young squids about 12 squids with tentacles, fresh or frozen
1/2 lb ground pork from pork butt/shoulder/picnic
3-4 dried shiitake mushroom or 3-5 wood ear mushroom, soaked in hot water
1 small bunch of cellophane noodles (about 1-1.5 oz), soaked in warm or cold water
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
3 Tbs finely minced shallot (from 1 large or 2 small shallots) or 1/4 small yellow onion
2 tsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp black pepper
A few sprigs of cilantro
Carved pickle carrot (optional)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Nuoc mam pha/dam/cham (dipping fish sauce), see instruction here
1. Soak mushroom and cellophane noodle. When they are soft about 30 minutes, remove hard stem/core of mushroom. Drain well and squeeze out all water, coarsely chop mushroom caps and noodle.
1. Clean the squids per instruction here and below. Save and coarsely chop the tentacles for the filling (stuffing mixture). Use a knife to cut a small split about 1/8 in. at the pointed end of the sac-use as a vent to prevent the squids exploded while frying and stuffing easier. Drain the sacs well and set aside.
2. Heating 1 Tbs oil in a small pan. Add garlic and shallot and stir just until fragrant and garlic turn some light tan color. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, combine pork, tentacles, mushroom noodles, fish sauce, sugar, black pepper, and garlic/shallot mixture. Mix well.
3. Stuff the mixture into the squid sacs with your hands and fingers. Hold the sac on one hand and use the index finger g to push a small amount of stuffing into the body gently and firmly stuff without any air pocket. Leave about 1/2 in. at the opening and secure with a small toothpick, or bamboo skews, or sew it with a large needle and thread (100% cotton). Save leftover filling if any and can be stir frying and serve on the side same as stuffed squids without squids
4. Heating remaining oil in a heavy bottom over medium high heat. Add stuffed squids and sear until all sides lightly golden brown about 10 minutes turning several times as needed about 2 minutes at one side. Turn the heat down to medium, continue cooking about 5 more minutes, turn occasionally until nicely brown and cooked through. Cut one to test and make sure no pink inside. Transfer to a platter, let it cools down 5-10 minutes.
5. When serve, remove toothpicks and cut the large ones into 1/4 in. thick slices and leave the small ones whole. Garnish with cilantro, pickled carrot (optional). Serve with nuoc mam cham on the side.
When they are warm the filling tends to fall apart but will be intact and easier to slice when it is cool or cold.
Cash and Carry sells America Squid harvested in Washington and California.