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Cooking Squid and Other Tentacles Seafood

(Newsletter Issue #015)


How to cook squid and other tentacles seafood

Squid (along with other cephalopods, such as octopus and cuttlefish) is treated differently from most seafood because it toughens as it cooks. Squid can be either cooked very briefly - until just cooked through, or it will be tough - or long-cooked, stewed past the point of toughening until it becomes tender again.

Short-cooking methods are the same as for other seafood. Squid can be deep-fried, sautéed or stir-fried. It also takes well to cooking as a quick stew. First sauté or stir-fry it in a little oil or butter, then add a small amount of flavorful liquid such as white wine. The liquid reduces into a light sauce during the minute or two it takes to cook the squid through (This is technically called short-braising). Be careful not to cook the squid more than one or two minutes, or it will toughen.

Octopus and cuttlefish take longer to cook than squid because they are thicker and tougher. Cuttlefish can be stewed in the same way as squid, but cook it covered for thirty minutes before uncovering, and then cook for forty-five minutes to one hour more. Cook octopus as you would a beef daube.

Long-cooking or stewing (technically called long-braising), squid takes forty-five minutes to an hour. The squid is cooked with aromatic vegetables and liquid to cover. Red wine is one of the best liquids to use for stewing squid, octopus, and cuttlefish because its full body and flavor match their flavor. Most stews are cooked covered, but squid, because it releases a lot of liquid and cooks relatively quickly, is cooked uncovered so that the stewing liquid reduces and concentrates while the squid is braising.

Squid is usually first separated into bodies, sometimes called hoods, and tentacles. The bodies are sliced into rings before cooking.

Squid Stewed with Red Wine

Any liquid can be used to stew squid, but here, we will use red wine and chopped tomatoes.

1. Prepare a flavor base by gently stirring chopped shallots and garlic or other aromatic vegetables in a small amount of olive oil over medium heat until the vegetables lightly caramelize, about 10 minutes.
2. Add the squid and enough liquid with the seeded and chopped tomatoes to come halfway up the sides of the squid.
3. Add a bouquet garni and pour over enough red wine to cover the squid.
4. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring from time to time, until the squid is tender and only a small amount of liquid remains in the bottom of the pan. 45 minutes to an hour.
5. Serve while hot.

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