The dried squid ball has a fresh yellow, sweet- smelling and a moreish flavor. When we have a bite of it, we would feel a buttery and crunchy taste of the grinded squid. That is the subtle of this luxurious but common dish.
Every time coming back to Ha Long, I used to take a walk around to enjoy the fresh flavor of the sea here. Especially in the evening, along the streets, you would see the peddled wares selling sticky rice and squid ball. Customers could savor the greasy taste of the dish as well as the cool air of the bay.
It is best to use squid ball with the white sticky rice (steamed sticky rice without any kind of pea). The soft seed of sticky rice mingles with the greasy squid ball really make the dish irresistible. In the past, in my hometown, people used to make this dish in death anniversary. These days, it has become a specialty of this famous tourist place – Ha Long Bay.
Making squid ball requires you to be clever, meticulous, enduring, and the most important, hard – working. The very first step to make a nice dish of squid ball is selecting the squids. We should take ones that have thick and fresh carapace on their back.
It is very scrupulous to “operate” the squid, too. We need to omit the bowel and the vesicle, remove all the skin. We should keep the fin on the two sides of the squids because this part would create the crunchy taste after cooked. Then, wash them with the water and slice them into pieces.
If we want the squids to be crunchy and fragrant, we should grind them in a stone mortar by our bare hands. Put the squids into the mortar one by one. It is recommended that we should not make them well kneaded, especially with the fins. In that way, the squid would be stickier and some parts that are not well grinded yet will turn to be very crunchy when you eat. When grinding, add some peppercorns to make them mix steadily with the squid meat because later the squid would stick very hard.
After that, adding some chopped onion, a little bit fish sauce and some spoons of liquid lard and mix them continuously in about 2 minute.
Depending on the liking of each person, we can create different shapes for the squid ball. However, you should remember to prepare a bowl of water and put a little oil on your hands to prevent them from being sticky with the squid. Using a spoon to take a little squid and then put it in your hands, roll it into a ball and press it.
To fry the squid ball, we should use a sunken pan. Pour the oil into nearly half of the pan. Keep the oil hot, then lower the flame and fry the squid ball. Turn the balls over steadily; keep the flame in a medium level, not too strong, not too weak. When they turn into yellow, take them out and put them on the grill to keep them dry (if not the balls would be very greasy).
Squid ball using with sticky rice has already become a famous specialty of the people of Quang Ninh. In Ha Long, there are even chains of street where people specialize in making this dish.
Seating near the bay, enjoying the fresh breeze from the sea, everybody would feel very relaxed. For Ha Long Bay, I would not only love the sea and the beautiful nature but the special tasty dish of this place, the squid ball.