Skewered Squid with Black Pepper and Sesame-Lemon Sauce

Makes 4 servings
Time: 15 minutes

I whipped up this dish after Charles wowed everyone with his Lemongrass-Grilled Rack of Lamb with Tamarind Sauce. Although squid and lamb are not usually considered in the same category, what these recipes have in common is that they're both grilled, and they both feature the primary flavors of Vietnam; his uses lemongrass and mine, that country's most common spice, black pepper. You see black pepper everywhere there, and it's not just an afterthought but also an important part of many dishes. It works very nicely in this quick squid dish, which can be made with shrimp or scallops as well.

Like shrimp and scallops, squid grills (or broils) very, very quickly – typically in less than 5 minutes. So as long as you're building a fire (unless you have a gas grill) you might as well grill some vegetables at the same time. Treat them the same way, including the dipping sauce.

2 pounds squid, cleaned
1/2 cup sesame oil
Salt and lots of black pepper
Fresh lemon juice to taste (at least that of 1 lemon)
1 tablespoon minced garlic

1. Preheat your grill or build a grill fire; the heat should be quite hot, and the grill rack should be about 4 inches from the heat source. (If you're using wood skewers, soak them in water to cover while the grill preheats.) Skewer the squid (it will be easier to turn if you use 2 skewers, parallel to one another). Brush the squid with some sesame oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

2. Put the remaining sesame oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook until it is thin and hot, about 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a small, heatproof bowl, combine the lemon juice with the garlic and about 1 tablespoon black pepper. When the oil is ready, carefully pour it over this mixture and let sit. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.

4. Grill the squid until nicely browned on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Serve immediately, with the dipping sauce.