When the Humboldt Squid show up off of the West Coast, a bunch of people always ask me how to clean the squid and prepare it. With the squid biting right now, I figured it’d be a good time to go through the process and show our readers the steps needed to clean the humboldt squid for cooking.
Todd and Mike Mora, two local Southern California brothers, brought five squid by the kitchen and these humboldts were perfect for me to explain how anyone can prepare these squid for cooking. The photos I took of the process will help to show you how I do it.
An important step that I think is worthwhile to mention is that it’s important to put your freshly caught squid on ice once you’ve brought them onboard the boat. This will ensure the squid are super fresh when it comes time to prepare them.
Another very important point to consider is that these squid take a long time to completely die. You should rest them in the fridge or over ice in a cooler for 24 hours before you cut them up.
I received these squid at 6 p.m. and they were already six hours old but their suction cups would still attach to anything they came in contact with. I iced them down over night and prepared them the next day at 10 a.m.
In the photo above I split the squid open and removed all of the internal organs and cartilage.
I then turned the squid over and using a cloth rag, pulled the colored skin off.
There is still another finer, translucent membrane that also needs to be removed, as shown above.
Next, you will find two pieces of heavy cartilage on the flat edge of the squid that you also need to cut out.
At this point, the finished squid should look like the meat in the photo above.
You need to pound these steaks out to tenderize the meat and soften them up. I like to use a one-gallon Ziploc bag for this step. The Ziploc is made of HD plastic that will stand up to the pounding. And by pounding the squid out while it’s in the bag you will keep your kitchen clean and free from any flying squid bits that might break off.
I would guess that humboldt squid live a tough life in the deep, being chased by swordfish and other squid, so they are inherently tough, but it’s nothing a meat mallet can’t fix.
In the photo above you’ll see what the finished steak looks like after it is pounded out. The flesh goes from complete “rubber” to this delicate white meat in a few minutes.
You can also prepare the fins of the squid, and if you slice off the suction cups and pound out the tentacles, you can eat them as well.
Marcos, one of our cooks here at the Sheraton San Diego, makes some of the best Mexican dishes around. Using the humboldt squid he prepared the squid three different ways to show how versatile it is. (Stay tuned for these recipes soon!)
The classic Humboldt Squid Burrito pictured to the right is a great way to use the squid meat. Our homemade salsa takes this burrito to the next level!
I’ve heard some people say that humboldt squid has a bad flavor, but this squid was soft, moist and tasted clean.
During the time it took to write this article, a flock of associates came through the kitchen and ate up everything we prepared. There wasn’t a scrap left!