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steamed Chinese shumai shrimp and turkey sausage dumplings on a brown square plate with a side of sweet chili dipping sauce

Pan Seared Calamari with Nuoc Cham

This Pan Seared Calamari with Nuoc Cham appetizer dish is perfect for entertaining! Succulent, tender calamari is pan seared and tossed in a spicy Vietnamese sauce in this easy Asian seafood dish. Cooks up so quickly!

  • Total Time: 15 min
  • Yield: 4 1x


Units Scale
  • 1 pound cleaned baby squid (tubes and tentacles)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Canola oil

For the Nuoc Cham:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek (red chili paste)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Pinch Kosher salt

Garnish with cilantro and lime slices (or wedges)


  1. Cut the squid tubes into thick rings. Put all of the squid into a medium bowl and thoroughly pat dry until there is little to no liquid. Toss with the salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  2. Heat a heavy cast iron or grill pan on high heat on the stove top (brushed very lightly with the oil). Cook the squid in the hot pan until it starts to brown and turn opaque, about 5 minutes total, tossing frequently.
  3. Place the cooked squid into a medium mixing bowl. Toss in the Nuoc Cham sauce until thoroughly coated. Place on a serving dish and garnish with slices of lime and more cilantro.

To make the Nuoc Cham: In a medium glass mixing bowl, whisk all ingredients together and taste for seasoning (more salt). Store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. (This also makes a great dipping sauce for so many Asian dishes!)


  • You can find baby calamari at your local Asian market, or select grocery stores like Whole Foods. They always have it on hand!
  • It's important to pat the calamari very dry before cooking! Otherwise, you will get steamed, rubbery calamari instead of nicely seared.
  • Nuoc Cham also makes a great dipping sauce! This magic sauce goes great with seafood, but also with steak, spring rolls, Asian salads, you name it!
  • Author: Asian Caucasian
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 5 min
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Stove-Top
  • Cuisine: Vietnamese


  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 240
  • Sugar: 2.8 g
  • Sodium: 723.5 mg
  • Fat: 15.6 g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.1 g
  • Protein: 18.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 264.7 mg

Keywords: seared calamari, calamari recipes healthy, grilled calamari recipe, spicy sauteed calamari recipe, nuoc cham