Calamari, or squid, is becoming more popular all the time. It is a culinary staple in many parts of the world. You can find calamari recipes from the Mediterranean, Portugal, Sardinia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Australia, Mexico, the Philippines, Korea, and many other places. You can find tentacles, rings, or steaks at many fish markets. If you buy whole squid, you can prepare them however you like. When you select your squid, it should look shiny and firm. If it is dull or limp, do not give it a second glance. Frozen squid works well if you cannot find any fresh squid in the market.
Squid deteriorates rapidly, so keep it on ice until you are ready to cook. It is best if you use it the day you buy it. Uncleaned squid is easy to prepare. Lay the squid out on your cutting board. The body is shaped like a hood. Reach inside and pull out the innards. You will find a quill that looks like it is made of plastic, but it is part of the squid. Remove it. Cut off the tentacles under the eyes.
Throw out the innards, quill, and head. Use cold water to rinse out the hood. You can scrape the gray membrane off with the back of a paring knife if the squid has not already been cleaned. You will notice two small “wings” on each side of the hood. Cut them off and set them aside. You can slice the hood into rings, leave it whole for stuffing, cut it into flat steaks, or cube it for a stir fry.
How to Cook Calamari
Calamari can be grilled, deep fried, stir fried or braised. Most cooking methods will only take a minute or two. Braising will take an hour to tenderize the meat. Cooking for any amount of time in between these two extremes tends to give you rubbery meat. You can tenderize the calamari with a few pounds of a kitchen mallet or a heavy skillet. Do not overdo it.
Squid Ink Food or Not?
Squid ink can also be used in cooking if you are interested in exploring this option. You can harvest it yourself from a freshly caught squid or you can buy it in jars. Squid ink is often used in pasta or rice dishes in Europe; it colors the food a deep black. In Asia, you can sometimes find squid ink ice cream.
The flavor is a bit salty and earthy. You may want to check out your local fish market and see if they sell squid ink in jars or packaged with the squid. As one blogger states, “Squid has built-in gravy.” It may be worth a try if you are feeling adventurous. Some artists like to use squid ink in their drawings.
A Word of Caution
Allergies to squid are fairly common, so if you already have seafood allergies, it is possible you may also be allergic to calamari. While seafood allergies tend to stick to types of seafood, such as crustaceans or fish, sometimes if you are allergic to one you may be allergic to another. Consult an allergist for testing if you are unsure about eating calamari.
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