The following is an excerpt from Host by Eric Prum and Josh Williams, now available from Dovetail Press
This family-style appetizer was inspired by some of our favorite Vietnamese dishes, in which seafood is served alongside a plate of big-leaf lettuce and herbs. The balance of hot and cold, cooked and raw, is as dynamic as it is delicious. Here we like to preserve squid's fresh flavor and snappiness by flash-searing it over super-high heat on the grill. Guests then tuck the squid and herbs in lettuce leaves and dunk the wraps in nuoc cham — a funky Vietnamese dipping sauce that adds a punch of spicy-sweet-sour flavor to each bite.
Grilled Squid Lettuce Wraps with Nuoc Cham
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons raw sugar
2 Thai chiles, thinly sliced
1 pound whole fresh squid, cleaned
1 tablespoon canola oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 butterhead lettuce leaves, separated and washed
10 mint sprigs
10 cilantro sprigs
In a small serving bowl, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and sliced chiles. Stir until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Prepare a grill for high heat, placing a cast-iron griddle on the hottest area of the grill (if you don't have a griddle, you can cook the squid directly on the grates). Toss the squid with the oil and season with salt and black pepper. When the grill is very hot, place the squid on the griddle and grill for 30 seconds. Flip the squid and grill it for 30 seconds longer. Transfer to a serving platter or cutting board, cut into 1-inch pieces, and serve immediately with the lettuce leaves, mint, cilantro, and nuoc cham.