How to Clean Baby Squid Calamari

Baby squid takes time and patience to clean, but the effort is worth it. With these easy-to-follow instructions, you will be able to clean squid without wasting much of it.

First, gather all of the necessary tools that you will need to clean the baby squid. You will need a small, sharp knife; a large cutting board; a bowl or your trash receptacle; and another bowl for your cleaned squid. A smaller knife will help you get into the smaller parts of the squid. You will be using the tip of the knife to cut some parts off, so you will need a sharper tip. A paring knife is great for this task; a large chef’s knife or santoku is not.

Inspect the squid before proceeding to the cleaning stage. Although you should have checked the squid for freshness at the supermarket or fish market, you should check again once you get them home. Does the squid smell “off?” If you are going to make baby squid calamari, try choosing smaller squid because they are generally more tender and easier to clean and handle. Once you have checked the freshness, you are ready to clean the squid.

The first step is to pull the head off. You can chop the whole head off but you will leave the guts inside the body, and if you want the tentacles, you will still need to separate those from the head. Take the head and tentacles and tug on them gently. Everything, including the insides, will come out if you do not pull too quickly or too hard. Once you have separated the head/tentacles from the body, it’s time to clean the tentacles.

Now, take your sharp paring knife and cut the head from the tentacles. This will seem difficult because the head appears to be part of the tentacles. They are seamlessly connected. However, if you look at the underside, you will notice that the head is encapsulated in skin. Make a small incision with the tip of your paring knife at the base of the head. You will be able to gently remove the head and any hard parts associated with it. Once the tentacles are freed from the head, put them in a bowl to be washed later.

You’re ready to pull the quill out of the squid’s body. In general, this is easy to remove and you will not need tweezers or pliers to pull it out. After removing the quill, place the body in the bowl along with the cleaned tentacles. You can also wash the body at this point to take off any colors on the outside of the squid’s body, but this is not necessary.

Now you’re ready to use your freshly cleaned baby squid.