Foray to the fish shop: squid
Squid is a mollusc common in our seas and can be fished almost everywhere, all year round, along the coast and is a recommended food in most diets, as long as it is not fried
Liguria Nautica’s articles on fish shops are back: recognising a fish, fishing techniques and how to cook it; for the return of this series we are talking about squid, a popular and widespread mollusc in both our cooking and our seas.
Loligo vulgaris, also known as squid
There are a number of genus and species of squid, but the “European” squid is part of the Loliginidae family, Loligo genus, vulgaris species.
European squid are not the only edible kind; Dosidicus gigas also known as the “red devil”, one of the most voracious sea creatures most studied by scientists. This is the legendary giant squid, reaching exponential sizes much larger than European squid, and their fishing is a considerable source of food for Chile, Mexico and Peru.
The body of the squid is cone-shaped, with a fin or gladius made of transparent chitin, thin and long, inside is a shell protecting the digestive and reproduction organs; externally it has two lateral fins shaped like a rhombus. The upper skin colour oscillates between pink and purple (this fades after death) with dark spots, while the lower colour is lighter. The head has ten tentacles (of which two are longer and used for hunting) with suckers.
Squid live on different types of sea floor, mostly rocky, sandy or covered in seagrass.
During reproduction (usually winter and/or spring, depending on the area) they move closer to shore and are easier to catch. For the rest of the year, squid live at extreme depths.
Squid can be fished in a number of ways; hobbyists mostly use ledger rigs or a slow trawl. Professional fishermen, instead, use the more profitable technique of drag netting or trawling during the reproductive period.
Recognising fresh squid
Squid are particularly prestigious fish in cuisine, but how do you recognize their freshness when purchasing?
Fresh squid can be recognised by the intense and bright colour of their skin, their black eyes must also be bright.
Because of their low calories and the fact they are filling, squid is an excellent source of low calorie protein, but be careful not to confuse it with another mollusc: the flying squid.
The main difference can be noted in the fins along the sides of the body and the tentacles: squid have larger fins, long and thing, in a rhombus shape along almost the entire body, with tentacles having only suckers; while flying squid have smaller fins, more triangular in shape attached to the end of the body, in addition, the tentacles have, along with suckers, small hooks.
Once cleaned, removing the skin, eyes and guts, squid can be cooked in a number of ways: in addition to the classic frying, they can be boiled for seafood salads, added to sauces for pasta, but they are best when grilled.