For the first time in three years squid have returned to California waters in sizable numbers. Large-sized squid have shown up three or four weeks early, which bodes well for future harvests and for those who clean their own squid. Large squid (six to eight per pound is common as compared with 15 to 20 in recent years) means less work for the cleaner.
Fresh squid is nearly always found in the market whole. Cleaned squid is generally frozen and you can expect to pay two to three times the price of fresh squid. Fresh squid will have ivory skin underneath the dark dots and no discoloration. And they have a characteristic sweet smell. Whole squid yields about two-thirds to three-quarters its weight in usable meat.
Protein in Squid
Cooking squid is simple if you understand one of its characteristics. Squid has a great deal of protein that becomes tough after more than 2 or 3 minutes of cooking by high heat methods such as sauteing, grilling, blanching or deep-frying. This protein is broken down after about 30 minutes by wet heat methods such as braising. Squid becomes tender while absorbing the flavors of the sauce.
Here are two methods to clean squid. The first is the quickest and is suitable for recipes calling for squid pieces. The second will produce rings or whole bodies.
Cut off the tentacles just above the eye and save them for inclusion in the dish.
--Squeeze out the beak, the garbanzo bean-like mouth of the squid, and discard it.
--Cut through one layer of the skin lengthwise. Push away the viscera and the transparent quill-shaped backbone.
--Cut the body into squares or strips.
--Begin with the first step of the above method.
--Hold the body sac by the tail and with a French knife held perpendicular to the squid, scrape from the tail to the open end of the cavity. Turn the squid over and repeat the procedure.
--Open each body and rinse under cold water. You can use the bodies whole for stuffing or cut rings across.
SQUID IN BLACK BEAN SAUCE
1/4 cup fermented, salted black beans
1/4 cup dry Sherry or rice wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger root
2 tablespoons oil
2 pounds squid, cut into rings
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
Hot cooked rice
Slightly crush black beans and combine with Sherry and soy sauce. Set aside 20 minutes.
Stir-fry garlic and ginger in oil in wok or large skillet 1 minute. Add squid and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add black bean sauce mixture and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add green onion and cornstarch mixed with water. When sauce thickens, serve over rice. Makes 3 to 4 servings.