The region of Quang Ninh is known for its delicious seafood dishes, with fried squid paste in Halong Bay being a standout option. This dish is made using cuttlefish, which is known for its thick and chewy texture. To achieve the best flavor, cooks in Quang Ninh use only big cuttlefish caught from the area’s seas, which are renowned for their high salinity and exceptional seafood.
To prepare the squid paste, the cuttlefish is drained and cut into pieces before being pounded with spices such as onion, garlic, and pepper. Some cooks even add pork fat or peeled shrimps to enhance the mixture’s sweetness and softness. The pounding stage is crucial and requires experienced and strong cooks who can ensure the mixture is pounded evenly and continuously to achieve the desired stickiness.
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After pounding, diced tentacles and the rest of the squid are added to the mixture, which sets it apart from shrimp and fish cakes. The mixture is then frozen for at least two hours before being shaped into flat, round pieces and fried until golden brown.
Fried squid paste is often served with white sticky rice and steamed rice rolls and has earned a place in the “Top 100 specialties of Vietnam in 2022.”