Thai Squid Salad (Yam pla meuk)

squidsaladpIt has been five months since I bought Thai Food by David Thompson, a renowned Australian chef. As much as I was thrilled to own and read this beautifully edited, huge mine of information, I found it somehow intimidating and wasn’t in a hurry to cook from it. However, as soon as I tested a first recipe, I became literally addicted to this fascinating book and now I’m going through a phase of Thai cooking frenzy. Thanks to David Thompson I finally start slowly realising what genuine Thai flavours taste and smell like. Needless to say, I will never ever buy ready-to-use curry paste again.

In barely two weeks I tested – with a successful outcome – several curries, but I thought I would share with you first this quick squid salad, the most summery of all the dishes I have prepared. Its mixture of hot, tangy and sweet flavours, enriched by an explosion of a typically Thai combination of bold scents, create a fabulous refreshing treat for all the squid and Thai cuisine lovers.

I have slightly adjusted the ingredients’ quantities to my taste, so check Thai Food to read the original recipe and to learn how to cook genuine Thai dishes.

TIPS: The author advises to serve this salad immediately, after blanching the squid and, even though it is still good when served cold, I prefer it slightly warm.

Although I suppose you might successfully substitute squid with some other protein sources, I wouldn’t advise replacing any other ingredient (in my opinion only mint could be skipped here without much harm).


Ingredients (serves two as a starter):

2 big squids, cleaned (about 15 cm long)

3 small (Asian) shallots or two medium Western shallots

1 stalk lemongrass

2 big makrut (also known as kafir) lime leaves

3-4 tablespoons of fresh (torn or roughly chopped) coriander and mint (I have used a 3 : 1 ratio because I preferred coriander’s taste to prevail)


1 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon white sugar

2 tablespoons fish sauce

3 bird’s eye chillies

pinch of salt

First prepare the squid.

Make a big vertical cut through the body, spreading it flat and score it diagonally in two directions, on the interior side.

Cut the squid into long 2 cm thick strips. Then cut the strips and tentacles into bite-sized pieces.

Put aside.

Slice very finely the makrut leaves (I always remove the central vein when using them raw).

Chop the shallots.

Remove the outer tough leaves from the lemongrass, the upper 1/3 of the stalk and also the lowest toughest small bit.

Slice the remaining part very finely (I have used a mandolin).

Prepare the sauce in a big bowl: seed and chop finely the chillies and combine with the remaining ingredients.

Taste the sauce and adjust it to your taste (it should be rather salty because the squid is not salted).

Blanch the squid in boiling water until it is opaque.

Drain the squid, throw into the sauce and add the remaining salad ingredients.

Give the salad a stir and serve immediately.

33 Replies to “Thai Squid Salad (Yam pla meuk)”

    1. Hi Donalyn, it’s a fantastic treat for squid lovers, so I hope you children will like it.

        1. Great to know. I’ll have to go back tomorrow or the day after and pick it up up. I thought the jar next to it might also be chili paste.

            1. I’m not able to identify Korean writing but based on the ‘chili paste’ in English and the picture, I figured it might be a substitute if I DIDN’T find the gochujang. 🙂 I’m glad I don’t have to use something else now. Again, many thanks for your patience with my questions.

              1. You are welcome! It’s a pleasure to help and I know what it means to have a grocery shop where they don’t speak English (or French even here). I don’t read Korean of course, but I find Korean writing very easy to recognise. After a couple of weeks with the gochujang tub, you will recognise it everywhere too 🙂 I hope the second visit to the shop and the buy will be worth it.

  1. I have to check the book out. Thai food is fascinating to me. I haven’t try too many Thai foods though. This salad is very appealing. I love squid!

    1. Thank you, Nipponnin. If you want to buy one Thai cooking book in your life, this one is the best. As I have mentioned, you should have an easy access to Thai products, otherwise you would be frustrated.

  2. Sissi, I actually posted a Thai Squid salad on my blog, a couple years ago…for the ‘life of me’…can’t even remember the ingredients, and the preparation, but I do know that I love your version of it, and know the kaffir leaves are not something that I could find here, locally!

  3. I’ve had this Thai squid salad before and I loved it but never tried making it. I am looking at your ingredients and I am surprised how simple it is to make. Thank you, Sissi and I would definitely checkout this book. 🙂

    1. Hi, Ray. It is very easy indeed if you have all the necessary ingredients. Very quick too! The book is amazing.

    1. Thank you, Bibs. I’m glad you like squid too. The book is extraordinary indeed.

  4. Hi! Your dish always looks very delicious. A few decades ago,I was told that Western people would not eat squid. Japanese people like squid very much. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you so much, Minoru. Maybe in US it’s still true… but in Southern Europe (Greece, south of Italy for example) people have always eaten squid (it’s always on the Greek restaurants menu for example). In Spain and Portugal they also eat a lot of octopus. In the colder parts of Europe many people hate squid, but I have always loved it. Especially geso… which is never sold separately here, alas.

  5. I love squid salad, but I have only tried a different (but similar) version so far. I really like the idea of adding chillies, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass, it really sounds delicious and very Thai too! I would definitely try this version when I have got some squid in my freezer. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe, Sissi :).

  6. I only had squid salad once, but never attempted in making it. Thanks for the recipe Sissi, I will have to try this soon.
    Hope you enjoying your week 😀

  7. I have one tiny, thin Thai cookbook…your huge tome sounds so better. I will have to check it out.

    The salad looks great 🙂

  8. What a lovely looking salad and the tangy sauce is especially appealing to me. My husband loves squid. The big thing here (North America) is battered and deep fried squid, aka: calamari, which I have always found tastes precisely like rubber (I’ve tried many, many different versions of this fried ‘delicacy’). I’d be curious to enjoy your version right from blanching to taste the difference. I look forward to more recipes (including those curries) from your Thai cookbook Sissi!

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. When I had this salad for the first time, I instantly thought about you… I didn’t know if you liked squid or not, but I am conscious of your passion for Thai cuisine. I must say I have never had good squid “rings” either and never managed to get them right at home. Maybe it’s the shape? Otherwise, I am crazy for squid… and so happy to discover this quick light dish! I will soon post some other recipes from this amazing book and I’m sure you would love them. Pity we cannot organise Thai cooking sessions together 🙂

  9. So it’s the kaffir lime leaves that give Thai squid salad it’s unique flavor? I’ve always tried to figure that one out and failed miserably. Bobby and I both love squid salad so I THANK YOU for providing the recipe! Now the hunt to find some already cleaned squid. 🙂

    1. Hi, MJ. Kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass are the most typical Thai flavours, I think. (Fresh ones or frozen). This salad was really amazing. So quick, simple and so unusual!

  10. Wow, looks delicious,
    i once had the raw squid (freshly killed live squid) and prepared this way, i guess i will copycat your recipe then,
    live squit is too damn pricey for me, lol

    1. Thank you, Dedy. I had raw squid salad in Japan and it was delicious. Here I cook it of course.

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