How to Clean Small Squid

Whenever we look at a small squid such as a calamari squid, if we do not know what we are doing, we may think to ourselves, “How am I supposed to go about cleaning this?” The reality is that small squid are extremely easy to clean with a little bit of knowledge and a little bit of practise.

The way in which we set about cleaning the small squid may very well depend on for which purpose we intend subsequently using it. When I first began cleaning calamari squid, I was simply using them as fishing bait. This meant that I did not have to attach quite the same importance to the manner in which I cleaned the squid as if I had been eating them. I used to simply peel them by gently twisting each of the small fins at the end of their tails and peeling the skin off as I would from a banana. I then cut off the head (which may be used as bait on a separate hook) and removed the clear, plastic-like backbone and the insides by pinching the head end of the bone between the nails of my thumb and forefinger and exerting gentle pressure.

In order to clean a small or calamari squid for eating, we proceed initially as above. We naturally have to be a little more careful, however, bearing in mind that presentation may be important in our finished dish.

When we reach the stage of having removed the backbone and innards, we have to determine whether we are making calamari or squid rings, or whether – as I like to do – we are going to attempt to reassemble the body and head of the squid on the plate. If we are simply going for the squid rings, we then cut across the body to form such rings and can either fry the head as well (which is delicious) or discard as we see fit.

If we wish to reassemble the squid, however, the way in which to proceed is to make one straight cut from the open end of the body straight up to the tail and open the squid body out thereafter in to an approximately triangular shape. We should rub the inside of the flesh gently with our fingers or a piece of kitchen paper to remove any remaining slime from the innards.

The next step is to take a small but very sharp knife and as gently as possible score the inside of the flesh with a series of diagonal lines in opposite directions to form diamond patterns. Be very careful not to cut all the way through the extremely delicate flesh. This will cause the flesh to essentially curl in on itself during the very brief cooking process and once again resemble the whole squid body.

Pass the body of the small squid and the tentacles through some plain flour and add the head first to a frying pan with some medium hot sunflower oil. After about twenty to thirty seconds, add the body and when the body curls up to its former shape, both are ready.

It is amazing how lifelike the small squid can once again look when arranged on the plate and the eating experience they provide is fantastic!