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Posted 10 January 2011 - 05:35 PM
Cleaning & Cutting
All you really need for squid is a cutting board, a sharp kitchen knife and a grapefruit spoon. Narrow pointy grapefruit spoons are best for squid and grapefruit but can be hard to find these days.
We start out with whole fresh squid about 12 inches long including the tentacles. These can be obtained in bulk from most Asian markets.
Yield: - fresh squid is generally sold whole as caught, so you'll have to clean and prepare it yourself. A pound of fresh squid yields just over a 1/2 pound (55%) of cleaned bodies. Add the tentacles and you will have about 2/3 of a pound (66%) total. Most recipes for fresh squid call for the weight of uncleaned squid, but check.
First cut off the tentacles right in front of the eyes. If you get it just right the beak will stay behind with the eyes and the tentacles will still be together in a star formation. more likely the beak came with the tentacles, just cut it out and discard.
Next place the squid body in the palm of your hand and wrap your fingers around just tight enough to keep it from slipping away. Pull the head off and the innards will come along with it.
You should now be able to feel the end of the nearly transparent "pen". Pull it straight out. If the squid was handled roughly it may be broken in which case fish out the pieces. Now scoop out any jelly remaining in the body with a grapefruit spoon.
Note: some recipes call for squid ink so if you're cooking one of those locate the ink sack in the pile of innards and remove it.
Break the skin and just rub it off. You will end up with white squid bodies and a small pile of purple tentacles.
Caution: do not cook the tentacles with the bodies, the skin color bleeds and will stain the white bodies an unappetizing color. You can cook them in the same water after the bodies have been removed.
You may now cut the body into whatever shape you desire. Commercially squid are most often just cut crosswise into rings - easy, but boring. You can easily cut them to form other shapes.
Note: when cutting lengthwise always cut along the line where the "pen" was removed for neatest results.
Note: squid always curls from front to back and inside out, so if you score the flesh for decorative effects score the inside surface.
The photo shows (top left) half the body split lengthwise. When cooked it rolls up to form the shape just below. In the center, a whole squid body was split lengthwise, flattened out and cut as shown. The curls that result are below it. On the right, the body has been split lengthwise, flattened and cut crosswise into three pieces (one shown). The flesh was scored to form a pattern on the curled tube.
If it's really, really fresh, you don't even have to cook it. Squid is one of my favorite sushi items.
Squid should be cooked for a very short time at high temperature or simmered quite a long time. In between it has all the edibility of rubber bands.
The tentacles are lovely, but if you are wet cooking your squid cook the tentacles separately, either in different water or after all the bodies have been cooked. The tentacles have skin on them and will discolor the white bodies if cooked with them.
If wet cooking you should have the water at a rolling boil and drop in a small amount of squid so the water stays hot. Pull and cool in between 10 seconds and 20 seconds depending on thickness of the squid. A minute will get you rubber.
If you are going the simmering route, check your squid often for taste and texture. You want to pull it as soon as it becomes tender enough but still has some bite. Overcooked squid loses both flavor and texture. The time will be about 45 minutes in most cases.
When frying, squid may be lightly battered or not battered at all. For unbattered squid get your oil plenty hot and stir fry for 10 or 15 seconds. For battered squid deep fry a small amount at a time in very hot oil (395°F) and for the minimum time needed to color the batter.
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