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Tips for Buying and Cleaning Squid

Fine Cooking Issue 59
Photos: Scott Phillips
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Some fish markets sell squid that’s already been cleaned, but you’ll pay extra for it. If you want to save a little money, you can buy whole squid and clean them yourself.

Fresh squid should have a clean ocean scent, and it should look shiny and plump, not deflated. The body, or “hood,” of a whole squid is covered with a purplishgray membrane that’s edible but is sometimes removed for looks. Avoid frozen squid if it shows signs of freezer burn, such as excess ice crystals.

1. With a sharp chef’s knife, cut off the tentacles below the eyes. Flip the tentacles back and squeeze out and discard the beak. Trim off the “wings” on the sides of the body.

2. Starting at the tip of the body, run the dull edge of the knife firmly down the squid to simultaneously peel off much of the membrane and squeeze out the viscera, including the plastic-like skeleton or “quill.”
3. Rinse the cleaned tentacles and bodies, inside and out, under running water. Cut large tentacles in half. The bodies can be cut crosswise to make rings, sliced lengthwise into strips, or left whole for stuffing.

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