Purchasing fresh squid is a lot easier than you may think. Most grocery stores carry it either in the fish section or the frozen foods section.
If you want to clean the squid yourself then head to the fish aisle and ask the clerk for some fresh squid. It will be whole with the skeleton and the tentacles still attached. Don't be scared! Cleaning them is super easy (read below for instructions).
If you do choose to buy them fresh, then be sure they smell and look fresh. Just like buying fresh fish, make sure the eyes are clear, they aren't slimy, and they don't have any overly fishy smell. If you would rather buy them already cleaned, then just go to the frozen food aisle and look for frozen, sliced squid. All you have to do is defrost them and they are ready to go. Most squid, however, are processed frozen so the major difference when buying fresh whole versus frozen slices is whether you would like to prepare the squid whole or in slices.
If you decide to go ahead and buy whole, fresh squid, there are a few simple steps for cleaning and preparing them for cooking. Most whole squid will come with the head, skeleton, and tentacles attached. Simply pull the head out of the body (the tentacles are attached to the head) and most of the guts should come free from the inside as well.
If you are going to use the tentacles (in my opinion, these are the best parts!), then slice off the head from the tentacles just above the eyes (they can be discarded). Pull out the skeleton from the inside of the body cavity and run under cold water to clean out any remaining guts or skeleton. Finally, peel off the skin so the squid is white (the skin will have spots on it), then follow the directions for your recipe and enjoy.
One of my favorite ways to prepare calamari is to stuff it whole with a blend of cheeses, top it with marinara sauce, and then bake it—delicious!
Another great way to prepare squid is to steam them, season them perfectly, and prepare a tasty and light salad with them. You can add all kinds of fresh vegetables, herbs, and even fruit. Dress it lightly with a citrus dressing and you have a light and refreshing meal.
You can, of course, batter the squid and fry it like you would get at a restaurant or you can even make a fried calamari sandwich by adding fried calamari to a crusty roll and topping it with a chipotle-mayonnaise dressing, onions, lettuce, and tomato.
Add squid to any dish just like you would chicken, beef, or fish. It works great in pasta or even in rice (like the Spanish paella). Be creative and enjoy the delicious flavors of squid!
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