Tuesday, October 18, 2011

He Eats, She Eats: How to Prepare Squid the Galician Way

Disclaimer: If you're squeamish around tentacles, look away now! Otherwise, please read on for a 100% tasty way to prepare squid!

I can just tell this post will be crazy-popular, because everyone loves squid, right? Of course I'm kidding, but I really do love squid and I hope you'll stick with me a read this post because anyone can love squid prepared in this simple (and totally non-rubbery!) way.

Deliciously simple squid in Spain

I guess I should say almost anyone, since this is another one of our His-n-Hers meals. Matt can't get past the idea (nor the smell) of squid to give it a try, but I just know he'd love it if he did. Squid has a very meaty, protein flavor that isn't fishy at all, and this recipe allows that rich, savory flavor to shine. By cooking the squid quickly and at high heat, a soft - not rubbery - texture is achieved - and all without a bit of breading or frying oil in sight!

I've always been a big fan of seafood, probably a result of growing up under the specter of Mad Cow Disease in England as a child, and squid is one of my all-time favorites. Sadly, it's pretty hard to come by in land-locked Tennessee, so for our 3rd wedding anniversary last week, all I asked for was some fresh squid! We haven't found any yet - these photos are from last year, in Oklahoma - but I'm still eager to share this recipe that I brought back all the way from Spain.

One of my favorite things about walking the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain was the exposure it gave me to all kinds of different cuisines. I've written about it in greater detail here, but my favorite region was the coastal area of Galicia - largely because of its beautiful, verdant hills, its pleasant people and, of course, its seafood. The area is most famous for boiled octopus, but its sardines, scallops and squid aren't too shabby either.

The squid, called chipirones, are seared in a little bit of salt, olive oil, and sometimes garlic, and are served piping hot. The flesh is so tender that it cuts easily - not like the tough, leathery excuse for calamari served in most restaurants these days. I ordered squid at every opportunity in Spain and never once was I served breaded or fried rings of squid. I learned that the rings are often cut from larger, more mature squid and are, therefore, less tender. The smaller and younger the squid you can get (they should be just a little longer than finger-length), the better!

Squid ready for cleaning

The toughest part about preparing squid is the cleaning, so if you buy pre-cleaned squid all the hard work is done for you and this meal can be on the table in 10 minutes! If not, you'll need a sharp knife and a strong stomach, but it's quite simple once you get the hang of it. The easiest way to learn is to watch a video (here's a good one, although he removes the skin and fins, which isn't strictly necessary, and slices it into rings) but the following photos should guide you through the process.

Step 1:

Using a sharp knife, remove the head from the squid where it joins the body. Set aside.

Step 2:

Sweep the innards out of the squid, using the knife or your fingers (you can see the option I chose!). Discard innards. (I try to combine this step with step one, using the pressure from the knife to pull out the innards with the head, as shown).

Step 3:

Separate the hard beak of the squid from the edible tentacles by cutting just below the eyes. Push any remaining beak material out with your knife or finger.

Step 4:

Remove the quill from the body of the squid. You can find the quill by running your fingers inside the edge of the body and feeling for a small piece of hard material. Pinch this and pull to remove the whole quill. If the quill is fragmented, be sure to look for and remove all the pieces - it's inedible!

Squid are cleaned and ready to cook!

Once your squid is cleaned, all that remains is to rub the squid with a pinch or two of kosher salt and sear it quickly over high heat. You can add some minced garlic to the pan if you wish, or even spritz the squid with a squirt of lemon juice. I'm a purist in this instance, so olive oil and salt is enough!

Galician-style (i.e. Pan Seared) Squid

Squid, cleaned of quill, beak and innards (tentacles are tasty and shouldn't be thrown away!)
pinch of salt, to taste
Olive oil, for pan (I use a spray bottle to limit amount needed)

Spritz a medium frying pan with olive oil and warm over high heat. When pan is hot, add squid and sear for 1-2 minutes each side. Squid should shrink slightly and become opaque. It may turn slightly pink or brown (this is normal and the pink/brown bits are where the flavor is!). If desired, cook with a bit of garlic and deglaze the pan with a bit of white wine or water. Remove squid and serve hot with steamed veggies.

These squid are ready to eat

If you've made it this far, I salute you!!!!

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  1. I really want to like squid...I really do. Perhaps this recipe with be THE one that wins me over?

  2. Hahaha - thanks, Joanne! At least you're trying...I'm pretty sure you're the only person who's read the post so far! ;) (Note to self: no more squid-themed posts!)