Kitchen 101 | How to Clean Squid

Photo courtesy of Tracie Chan

You'll often find squid sold in tubes, ready to slice into rings, or cut lengthwise for 'steaks'. Should you have the fortune of buying squid almost fresh from the boat, never fear. Cleaning squid is really a very easy thing to do.

Top row, from left to right:
  • The squid: The head, with eight arms and two tentacles, on the left, and the mantle, with two fins at the base, to the right.
  • Holding the body gently, lightly pull the body, by the head, to remove from the mantle. Set the head aside.
Center row, from left to right:
  • With the back of a knife, start at the base, and strip the remaining 'guts' of the squid through the top, or collar of the body.
  • There is a stiff 'quill' that runs along the back of the squid. Grasp the end peaking from the collar, and gently pull free. If it breaks-- just fish it out with your fingers. 
Squeamish yet? No shame in wearing gloves. I wear gloves as required by health department code in preparing food for the market, but I also keep gloves at home for tasks like this.

  • Stripping the guts from the mantle will help facilitate removal of the outer skin. Remove the remainder of skin. I discard the fins along with the skin.
Bottom row, from left to right:
  • Remove any remaining skin.
  • Cut arms and tentacles just above the visible eyes. Discard remaining head. I remove the little plug that is often in the center of the tentacle/arm ring. This is called the beak. It is the 'mouth' of the squid, essentially. 
  • Give a final pass with the back of the knife blade to clear any remaining debris.
  • Slice in ringlets or split lengthwise with a knife for flat 'steaks'.
  • Give all of the sliced, cleaned calamari a quick rinse, and strain well before resuming with preparation.
Now what will you do with your cleaned squid? Well if you're looking for a recipe, how about trying this quick, simple preparation? You'll have dinner prepared before the wine chills!

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