Squid ~ Tasty, Versatile, Abundant
West Coast market squid, or Monterey squid, is available year-round, and sold fresh at the store.
It takes remarkably well to freezing, is economical,
tasty and, yes, nutritious.
Below you'll find tips for cleaning and cooking whole squid.
To capture squid, boats fish at night, shining powerful lights
onto the water attracting squid, then encircling them with
purse seines or using dip nets. This is a clean fishery with little bycatch or habitat damage; purse seine nets for squid have
minimal contact with the ocean bottom where the squid eggs mature. The bycatch that there might be, mostly sardines and mackerel, is utilized and accounted for.
Squid have a lifespan of 12 to 14 months, so their ability to breed rapidly has helped with pressures of fishing. The California State Department of Fish and Game has developed a sustainable management plan for the squid fishery in our state waters.
Squid is rich in flavor, niacin, copper, zinc, vitamin B-12, and protein. Though it contains some cholesterol, squid is a heart-healthy source of protein.
For optimal tenderness, squid should be cooked either quickly over high heat, or very slowly and for a long time over moderate heat. In the case of grilling, quick cooking results in squid both tender and caramelized to a perfect crunchiness on the smaller tentacle ends. Yum.
Cleaning Squid for Grilling
1. Cut off the tentacles just above the eyes.
2. Squeeze out the pea-shaped beak from the center of the tentacles.
3. Securing the tail end of the tube-like body down to your work surface, with your thumb, gently "squeegee" the entrails of the squid, including the ink sac which you may want to retain, out. Discard the entrails.
4. Pull the quill-shaped featherbone out of the body.
Once your squid has been cleaned, marinate it in some olive oil, and a touch of salt, pepper and cayenne.
As you grill over high heat, note the color change; at first squid has translucence, then turns opaque as it cooks. Let the skin char to a deep red-purple. This will take but a few minutes, depending on your heat.
This grilled squid, along with these fresh herbs can be a bright, savory accompaniment to any summer salad.
Simple Fresh Herb Paste:
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup basil
- 1/4 tsp finely minced garlic
- olive oil
Puree the herbs, salt and garlic, then combine with enough olive oil to create a loose sauce to drizzle over the squid.