Calamari is the Italian name for squid. But in the English-speaking world, calamari has become synonymous with squid dishes, especially fried and breaded (or batter-coated) squid rings — a dish that, in the Philippines, is known as calamares. I don’t know of any Filipino who does not like calamares. It’s a favorite among kids, especially when served with tartar sauce. It is also a popular finger food that goes with beer. If you like calamares or any dish with squid for that matter, then, knowing how to clean fresh whole squid would be very useful.
Here is an illustration.
We start with whole fresh squid, of course.
With one hand, hold the squid’s body. With the other hand, grab the tentacles and pull to remove the squid’s entrails.
Next, feel around inside the cavity until you locate the spine — a stiff, transparent, plastic-like strip embedded in the squid’s flesh. Pull it out and discard.
Time to peel off the squid’s skin. Take a knife, make a very light incision on the squid’s body to open up the skin. Then, peel off the skin. It might not come off with one pull but once part of the skin has been removed, it is easy to remove the rest by alternative scraping and peeling.
Now, your squids are clean. But what about the tentacles? Should they be thrown away. No, they are edible.
Separate the edible tentacles from the rest of the head. I cut off between the eyes and tentacles and squeeze off, and discard, the round white ball of substance inside.
With the squid body and tentacles cleaned and trimmed, just cut everything into whatever shape or size you desire. You can cut the bodies into rings. Or slit them down the middle, open them up, make criss cross patterns all over the surface (I’ll illustrate that in a future entry), dice and use in a stir fried dish. Or stuff the squid bodies with chopped vegetables (finely chop the tentacles and throw them in too) and grill the squids whole. Whatever. Once the squids have been properly cleaned, you can cook them every which way. Just remember not to overcook them or they will turn tough.
Want to try cooking Filipino-style calamares? Get the recipe!