Eastern promise

Neil Perry
Squid is a perfect match for a subtle-flavoured Thai salad.
Squid is a perfect match for a subtle-flavoured Thai salad. Photo: William Meppem

In the salad, the squid could easily be replaced by prawns, fish, chicken, beef or pork.


300g cleaned squid

3 red shallots, finely sliced

1 kaffir lime leaf, julienned

1/2 lemongrass stalk, outer leaves removed

1 small handful mixed coriander, mint and Thai basil leaves


4 wild green chillies, finely sliced


1 tbsp caster sugar

juice of 1 lime

2 tbsp fish sauce

Serves 4 as part of a shared Asian banquet

To make dressing, pound chillies and sugar in a mortar and pestle to form a paste. Stir in lime juice and fish sauce and check seasoning.

To prepare squid, cut off the tentacles and cut down the centre of the squid so it will open out flat. Score the inside with a crisscross pattern then slice lengthways into 2cm wide strips. Cut the tentacles in half.

Blanch squid in a large pot of salted water for about 30 seconds until it just turns opaque, then drain and let cool.

Toss squid, shallots, kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass and herbs together in a bowl. Add dressing, gently toss again and serve.



350g free-range or organic chicken thigh fillets, skin on, each cut into 3 pieces

1 1/2 lemons, quartered lengthways

pinch freshly ground white pepper, to serve

2 spring onions, julienned, to serve


1 tbsp Shaoxing wine

1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce

1 1/2 tbsp oyster sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp peanut oil

2 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp sugar

Serves 4 as part of a shared Asian banquet

Place the chicken in a shallow, heatproof bowl and squeeze the juice from the lemons over the top, then add the lemon skins to the bowl as well. Add all the marinade ingredients to the bowl. Mix thoroughly and leave for 30 minutes.

Cover the bowl tightly with foil and place in a large bamboo steamer over a pot or wok of rapidly boiling water. Place the lid on and steam the chicken for 25 minutes, removing (and replacing) the lid and foil to turn the chicken once during this time.

Turn off the heat and carefully remove the bowl from the steamer. Remove the lid and foil and sprinkle with the pepper and spring onions before serving.


• A classic nam jim dressing - garlic and coriander root pounded with red and green chillies, palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice - would also work beautifully with the squid.

• To create an Asian banquet, serve the squid salad and lemon chicken with rice, simple steamed greens, chilli sauce on the side and your favourite stir-fry.



Chilli enjoys the close company of a little sugar, supplied here by this dry 2010 Dr Loosen Riesling Kabinett ($25) from the slate-laden slopes of Germany's Mosel Valley. Too much sugar would be overkill, so the racy acidity of the wine checks the palate, keeping things clean and zippy.

Styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Kirsten Jenkins.