Squid (Pusit), often called calamari, is a type of seafood belonging to the cephalopod family that also includes octopuses and cuttlefish.
It has a soft, cylindrical body with eight tentacles and two fins that run along its body. Its flesh is white and tender, with a delicate and slightly sweet taste similar to shrimp and scallops.
Is squid a healthy food?
According to Week&, squid can be a healthy food choice due to its low fat and high protein content. It is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin B12, phosphorus, and magnesium.
The omega-3 fatty acids it contains are crucial to heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation in the body.
However, squid can be high in cholesterol, so it should be consumed in moderation. It can also be a source of foodborne illness if not handled or cooked properly.
What is squid ink?
The squid produces a dark liquid known as squid ink contained within a sac, a small black vein that comes with the innards. The ink is a protective mechanism it ejects to ward off predators by obscuring their view.
The ink is used in Mediterranean and Asian cuisine to add a savory, umami flavor and natural dark color. It has also been used in traditional medicine and as a natural dye.
How to buy squid
Unless fresh-caught squid is available, "fresh" squid sold in supermarkets is typically frozen beforehand to maintain its quality.
When selecting squid, ensure that it is firm and shiny, without any signs of freezer burn or pink/purplish discoloration. It should have a pleasant aroma reminiscent of the ocean, without any strong or fishy odors.
Buying whole, uncleaned squid is a more economical option and allows you to collect the ink sac. Small to medium-sized squid tend to be sweeter and more tender than larger ones.
Squid tubes or bodies, cut rings, and tentacles are also available frozen and ready to cook. Avoid packages with excessive ice crystals or signs of freezer burn, like discoloration or dry spots.
Frozen squid should be defrosted in the fridge or submerged in cold water if you're pressed for time. For food safety, do not refreeze previously frozen seafood.
If you're interested in learning how to clean squid, be sure to check out my step-by-step instructions.
How to store squid
As with all seafood, squid deteriorates rapidly. For the best quality, cook it right away or store it properly.
Fresh squid should be cleaned and refrigerated immediately. Keep it in the coldest part of your fridge (usually the bottom shelf), or rest it on a bed of ice. Use it within 2 days or freeze it right away.
If the squid is frozen, keep it in the freezer until you are ready to use it. Store it in an airtight container or bag to prevent freezer burn.
It is safest to thaw it overnight in the refrigerator. If you are pressed for time, place it in a sealed plastic bag and submerge it in cold water for a few hours.
Cooked squid should be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for a longer shelf life.
Filipino recipes with squid
Squid is versatile and delicious when properly cooked. The best way to cook it is quickly over high heat or slowly over low heat. Here are some Filipino favorites:
- Fried Calamari: Squid is battered and deep-fried until golden brown, then dipped in sweet chili sauce or spiced vinegar. It is known as Fried Calamares in the Philippines and is also sold as street food.
- Adobong Pusit: A tangy, savory stew of squid with familiar adobo flavors—vinegar, soy sauce, and aromatics. Squid ink gives the sauce its distinctive black color. Green chilies are often added, and some versions include coconut milk.
- Paella: Arròs Negre (known as Paella Negra in the Philippines) is a black paella made with squid or cuttlefish ink. Squid can also be used in other paella or rice dish variations, such as Seafood Paella.
- Inihaw na Pusit: Squid is marinated in a slightly sweet, tangy soy sauce mixture and typically grilled over charcoal. It is sometimes stuffed with tomatoes and onions, and served with a dipping sauce made with soy sauce, calamansi, and chilies.
- Salt and Pepper Squid: A Chinese-inspired salt and pepper dish where squid is battered, deep-fried, and tossed with salt, ground peppercorns, and chili peppers.
- Squid Stir-Fry: A stir-fry of squid (sometimes with other seafood), aromatics, and vegetables with a slightly thickened sauce.
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