Squid comes in a variety of sizes, but you should choose those with bodies about or just bigger than the length of your fingers and hand. You can ask the fishmonger to prepare it for you or follow the steps below. Squid is versatile and can be cooked very quickly on a hot grill or frying pan.
1. Pulling the tentacles and the body free from each other.
2. Cutting the tentacles from the head, just above the eyes.
3. Carefully removing the squid ink sac, keeping it intact.
4. Squeezing our the mouth and beak from the base of the tentacles.
5. Cutting off the 2 long tentacles.
6. Pulling out the translucent quill from the body.
7. Pulling away the brownish-pink skin covering the body.
8. Cutting the body pouch open along the natural line (where the quill was attached).
9. Scoring the inside surface of the body in a diamond pattern.
- Hold the body in one hand and the tentacles in the other and pull them apart; a gentle tug is enough. The intestines will come away with the tentacles. Set aside the body of the squid for further preparation.
- Cut the tentacles from the head, just above the eyes on the tentacle side.
- If using the squid ink, look through the intestines for a thin, silvery-pearly tube that is the ink sac. Carefully cut it from the intestines; avoid pressing or cutting into it or you will lose the ink. Set aside the ink sac. Discard the head and intestines.
- Still working on the tentacles, find the mouth, which is in the centre of the base of the tentacles where they join the head. Squeeze out and discard the mouth, including the beak.
- Cut off the 2 long tentacles, then cut these into bite-sized pieces. If the rest of the tentacles are very large, cut them into large bite-sized pieces. If small, leave whole. Rinse and set aside.
- Reach inside the body cavity and feel for something firm against the side of the body, which is the feather-shaped quill. Gently pull it out and discard.
- Pull away the 2 fins on either side of the body. Pull and peel away the brownish-pink skin covering the body and fins. Rinse the body in cold water and dry it well.
- Place the body on the board and turn it to find the natural line where the quill was attached. Insert a sharp knife (a fish filleting knife is ideal) into the body and cut the body open along this line. Scrape the inside of the body carefully with the knife blade to remove the membrane and any remaining innards. Rinse and dry well with kitchen paper.
- Using a sharp knife, score the inside of the body in a diamond pattern. You need to score the flesh about one-third of the way through, so use a light touch. Once scored, cut the body into large bite-sized squares or rectangles (about 4-5cm). Combine the body pieces with the tentacles, ready for cooking.
On choosing squid…
When choosing squid, smell it; it should be almost odourless – any hint of ammonia indicates a lack of freshness. Ask the fishmonger to prepare it for you or follow the steps below. Although it is possible to buy frozen squid tubes, the flavour of fresh is better.
For squid rings…
Choose a small to medium squid and follow the above technique to the end of step 7. At this stage pull away any remaining membrane and innards. Ensure you rinse out the inside of the body well and dry it. Cut across the body into pieces about 1cm wide.