Yes, you can buy clean squid but then you are depriving yourself of what will give you one of the most exquisite dishes: Calamare en su Tinta or Squid in its own ink. You can also buy the ink in a little plastic bag and make the sauce from that… but it ain’t the same, trust me. Most of the time it gets too black and too strong. If you use what comes with the creatures you will cook, it is always the perfect amount. Yes! Cleaning squid can be tedious and time consuming, so why not have a squid cleaning party? I am providing you all with the necessary info to do it yourself. Below, there is a video, though I am also including a step-by-step with pictures.
1- Make sure you buy very fresh squid. I do not like to use the frozen squids for this purpose. I am lucky enough to have fresh ones available at the Bay Ridge Green Market. I order them a few days in advance and request very fresh ones. Susana —who works for Glen at American Seafood stand— is always eager to please her customers. She also shares great Peruvian recipes that I still need to try. Let’s begin the cleaning process:
1- Grasp the tail section firmly in your hand and grab the head section below the eyes as shown in the picture. Pull gently but firmly in order to detach the inside as deep as possible.
2- Find the silvery ink bag located in the inner section of what you pull from the squid. Gently lift it, detach it and save it in a stainer.
3- Turn the tentacles upside down and apply pressure between the eyes in order to pop out the beak
4- Hold the head part of the squid below the eyes and with a sharp knife cut the tentacles below the eyes, being careful not to cut into the eyes. Rinse and place into a colander (the tentacles, not the eyes…)
5- From the edge of the body part remove the pen shaped spine that looks like plastic. They can be saved to make fun collage projects with kids.
6- Peel the reddish outer membrane away, remove & discard. You can also peel the fins & also save them. Wash the body, squeeze to make sure nothing left inside. If you are very picky you can turn the inside out to make sure it is very clean — I don’t do that. Once clean, reserve in the colander with the tentacles.
Now the video: Don’t have great expectation — Miles shot it with my very low end camera, so that’s the best we could do. I think it will help. Watch it a couple of time before you try working the squid, it will help and give you confidence. At first you might break an ink bag or two, not a big deal, just clean up in between. Next post will be the recipe for the Calamari in the Ink, but once the cleaning is done it’s a breeze. O! One more thing: 5lbs of squid for 10 people should do it.