As the title says, at Atlantic Seafood Market, we’re proud to offer the best squid in Old Saybrook and throughout all of Connecticut for that matter. Through this article, we wish to teach you a few facts on this noble creature of the sea, both in regard to its anatomy and biology as well as (obviously) its many culinary uses. Ready to become a squid whiz? Then read on.
Like the octopus, the squid is a member of the cephalopod family. Though to say “the squid” is a bit of oversimplification. There exist more than 300 different subspecies of squid throughout Earth’s oceans. In regard to their bodies, there some feature that come standard, regardless of what particular sub-species the squid in question may belong to.
All squid display a pronounced symmetry in bilateral fashion. The main distinct parts of a squid’s body are the head, mantle, and arms. The mantle is basically a body wall sheath covering the internal organs and eventually branches out into flaps and tentacle-like bodies that protrude beyond the organs that it protects. Inside of the mantle is a chitin-based feather shaped structure called the pen. The pen serves to support the mantle and allow for attachment of muscles and organs. When it comes to their arms, squid share yet another similarity with octopuses. Every squid has eight arms in addition to tentacles of a longer length. Squid are deceptively strong and powerful animals who are able to propel themselves through water at impressive rates of speed.
Squid are among the more intelligent species of invertebrates, with some varieties such as the Humboldt Squid having the ability to aid each other in hunting and communicating through body language1. Each squid possesses three hearts, with two of them functioning to assist the gills in respiration. They also have a larger central heart which exists in order to pump blood throughout their bodies.
Adding to the unique anatomy of squid is that their arms extend from their heads. In addition to this, they also have very sharp beak-like mouths that are made of chitin. They use these beaks along with its small opening in order to snare, shred and kill their prey. Even when a squid is consumed by a larger animal, its powerful beak cannot be digested.
While there are many squid species, few grow to be more than 24 inches in length. however, species such as the Giant Squid and Colossal Squid can grow to be more than forty feet long. The Colossal Squid boasts the largest eyes of any animal on Earth and the largest one ever caught weighed in at 1,061 lbs1. Their eyes are crucial in helping them spot large predators in order to make a quick and effective escape. Their eyes have been said to be the size of soccer balls2. They also have binocular vision, just like that of a human.
We like to give our little biology lectures here and there, but now it’s time that we move into the even more interesting culinary aspects of the squid. (Hey, we are a seafood market after all.) We have a lot to say on this subject so we’ll get started now.
A few people might cringe at the concept of eating a creature such as the squid, but chances are, you’ve already done it. Have you ever tried fried calamari? Then you’ve eaten squid. Calamari is simply the Italian word for squid – it’s not just some fancy word used to dupe the greenhorns of the seafood eating world.
When you’re served calarmari, you’ve likely noticed that there are two distinct shapes on your plate. The tentacle-like pieces are just what they appear to be – tentacles. The ring-like shapes however, come from the squid’s tube-shaped muscular mantle. They’re cut in convenient small circles for easier consumption. If you tried eating the whole sheath, you’d be pretty stuffed. Do it with a Giant Squid and you’ll be in the Guiness Book of World Records, but the ruptured stomach probably isn’t worth the notoriety.
There are many different methods for cooking squid. Several of these involve cooking the squid in its own ink. This provides a very rich, oceanic, and mineral-heavy flavor that will leave hardcore seafood fans sitting up and begging for more. The ink of a squid is actually a dark pigment that squid release into the water. This is generally a defense mechanism used as an escape tactic. This is especially handy when the squid wants to hinder a predator’s vision as it glides stealthily away.
In the days of yore, squid ink was actually used as literal ink; people wrote with the stuff. These days, it is a popular substance used by skilled chefs the world over as a coloring and flavoring agent. You’ll find it in pasta sauces, pasta itself, seafood broths and sometimes just poured all over some freshly prepared squid.
In addition to being served in the familiar fried calamari form, squid is also a central ingredient in many other seafood dishes. Some of these include baked stuffed squid, Mariner’s Stew, paella, jambalaya, squid salad, squid pilaf, and several different types of squid stuffing. Is that something to think about for Thanksgiving? We certainly think so.
We’ll wrap up this post by sharing with you the recipe for Mariner’s Stew, courtesy of Cooks.com.
Ingredients: 2 cups of cooked rice, 2 lbs of meat from a whole squid, 1 cup of chopped onions, 2 ten ounce packages of frozen peas, 3 cups of diced potatoes, 1 quart of water, 1/4 cup of the cooking oil of your choice, 6 ounces of tomato paste, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/4 cup of freshly chopped parsley3.
1. First you must prepare the meat of the squid. If your squid is frozen, you’ll have to thaw it first. If not, move on to step 2.
2. Make a cut through the squid’s arms near its eyes. Squeeze just below the opening with your thumb and index finger and the powerful beak should be able to be shifted out.
3. Feel the inside of the mantle and remove the hard pen. Grip it strongly and remove it along with the innards that are attached to it.
4. Lay the mantle flat and cut the squid into pieces from head to tail after washing it thoroughly. You’ll want to cut the mantle into 1.5 inch strips and the tentacles into 1 inch strips.
5. Cook the chopped onions in hot cooking oil until they are tender. Add in your squid pieces and cook for five more minutes.
6. Next, add in the water, tomato paste, parsley, salt and pepper and simmer for ten minutes.
7. Add in the peas and diced potatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes while occasionally stirring . When ready, serve in bowls over cooked rice3.
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The Eye of the Colossal Squid – The Largest Animal Eye Known
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