Author Topic: Squid, I want to convert you...


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Squid, I want to convert you...
« on: October 14, 2006 »
I am not a clever or sophisticated cook. The things that work for me have been hard won, through patience, experience, and a willingness to listen, and to learn.

I like squid.

Don't be scared. Squid are easy!

There are two basic principles. You either flash them quickly on a hot grill, or frying pan, with nice stuff like garlic and chilli, olive oil, parsley. You can dip them in a light batter (whole, if they are very small) cut in rings familiar from Greek or Italian holidays.

Or you can stew them very, very gently, for up to an hour. They will shrink, but be meltingly tender.

But fiddle about for ten or fifteen minutes, then you will have rubber bands, and you won't understand!

Here are some first principles, so you know how to approach such alien creatures.

Squid are not like octopus, you don't have to beat them against a rock for half an hour! If you cook them, and they are tough, then it is your fault, because you have not read my instructions!

Here is how to deal with larger squid.

Anyway, let's get started! You have a nice bag of fresh squid. What do you do next? You probably have these creatures sprawled across your table, stained with the ink they expressed as they died. My friends, I have to ask you to confront your fear.

You have to gut them.

Please, just hold back for a moment. Take one in your hands, and gently lay it down. You will have noticed the thin membrane, purple and black, more transparent than I can describe. It is harmless, but you can remove it. For now I will ask you do do something else. Look at your prey, and grip it's head, just below the mantle of it's fleshy  white carcase. Pull gently, and it will come away, along with it's innards. There will be a surprise, the quill, transparent and odd. Pull, and it will slide out. Take a knife, and make a quick incision, just below the all knowing eyes, severing the ten tangled tentacles, which you can now place safely in a bowl. Do not discard the entrails, not for now. Take a close look, and you will see a long silvery gland, tinged with black. This is precious, it is the creature's ink sac. With the greatest care, detach this, and reserve in a small bowl. Whatever you do, you must not break it!

Now you can throw away the horrible slimy intestinal mess, and proceed to clean up your prize, the succulent white flesh. The way you do this will depend on the dish you plan. To keep the squid whole (for stuffing or to cut into rings for deep frying) run the white pocket like mantle under a tap, using your fingers to carefully remove any remaining mushy guts and stuff. Otherwise, you can open it out, and clean it in an instant! The transparent membrane mentioned earlier, purple black and lacey, can be removed with the lightest touch. It's harmless, so don't worry too much!

This sounds complex, but it can be accomplished in a minute!

The tentacles should now be seperated from each other, and the long ones cut into equivalent lengths. You can put them with rest of the flesh, ready to prepare for your chosen recipe.

Some suggestions.

You can enjoy the fresh squid simply chargrilled, for no more than two minutes, dressed with good oil, a little lemon, some sea salt and black pepper.

You can serve the same with spinach, or the leaves of swiss chard, cooked with garlic.

In a light batter, as before.

Or you can stew them, in a sauce finished with the ink, which I will tell you more of.

A dark and sensuous risotto...

I will need to lie down for a while.