We get pretty excited about fish around here. And we’re especially thrilled when we learn new ways of using the whole fish, which translate to more flavor and less fish waste. But getting excited about fish guts takes it to a whole new level. Specifically, this week we’re talking about squid guts.
We sell two kinds of squid: loligo and illex. From our experience, loligo are typically caught nearer to the shore in shallower waters, while illex are harvested a little further out in deeper waters. This week, we were able to offer illex and it sold out immediately. Now we know it’s popular.
But when our friend, Mika, got her hands on illex, she gave us a whole new perspective on what makes it so special.
“It has guts!” she exclaimed happily.
In Japanese cuisine, squid guts are used in a brine when making a dish called shiokara. So seeing guts in illex that she hadn’t seen in loligo was very exciting to Mika. But, let’s be honest, even in Japan, shiokara is an acquired taste. Still, we learned a lot about squid from Mika’s cooking experiments, even those of us with a more Western palate.
First, the tentacles are gorgeous and grill up tender with a slight crispiness. They’re basically a local, sustainable substitute for octopus. The wings, which are often discarded, have a sweet tenderness that reminds us of scallop meat. And the tube meat, the part most commonly consumed, varies in taste and texture by size. The smaller squid are more tender, while the larger are just a touch chewier.
So, it’s true - size matters. But we still maintain it’s all good, especially when we find ways to use the whole animal that gave its life for our sustenance. Guts and all.