Fresh domestic squid is available at most seafood markets and, if you live on the coasts, you can sometimes find local catch at farmers’ markets or through CSFs (Community Supported Fishery programs, like CSAs for fish). If fresh isn’t an option, and all you can find is frozen, don’t despair: Unlike lots of other seafood, squid freezes really, really well, and thaws super quickly. Most squid is sold already prepped, but if you come across whole, uncleaned squid (which are often even cheaper than the cleaned stuff), cleaning them is a cinch (more on that in a sec).
If you bought cleaned squid, you’re basically good to go—just slice the bodies into rings or ribbons if you don’t want to cook them whole, and leave the tentacles as-is. But cleaning whole squid, while a little bit messy, is actually really easy. Work over the sink, and put on some gloves if you’re into that sort of thing. Start by pulling the finned tube away from the tentacles—it should pop off easily. Get your fingers inside the tube and pull out the transparent, plastic-y looking quill of cartilage inside. At this point you can use your fingernail to scrape the dark skin off of the tube if you’re feeling fussy, but it’s perfectly edible if left on. Carefully place the rest of the squid on a cutting board (don’t squeeze any of the stuff above the eyes and tentacles, which is where the ink sack is) and, using a sharp knife, slice between the eyes and the tentacles and discard everything but the tentacles. Feel around in the center of the tentacles until you feel a hard, beak-y thing, pull it out, and discard it. Repeat with the rest of your squid, rinse your tubes and tentacles under cold running water, and you’re ready to cook.
Squid is a super versatile player in the kitchen, and lends itself to so many styles of cooking. The most important thing to remember when cooking squid is that it needs to be cooked either hot-and-fast or low-and-slow to achieve that perfectly tender, springy-but-not-chewy texture—anything in between is going to result in unpleasantly tough meat. Here are a few of our favorites:
Check them out in our Squid Recipes board on Pinterest.
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