Cleaning Calamari
  |  First Published: May 2006

There are two types of people, those who love calamari and those who really love calamari. Although they’re delicious, cleaning them can be one of the messier experiences fishermen are likely to encounter.

There’s a bit of a knack to cleaning calamari. Done right, it can be quick and easy.

Before cutting into a calamari, make sure it’s been chilled down for a few hours first in the fridge.

There are two main problems when cleaning calamari; dealing with the ink and dealing with the slime.

Cleaning calamari straight out of the water or at room temperature soon after is a messy affair. By chilling them down first, the viscosity of the slime and ink increases and cleaning them becomes much easier.

Step 1

Set yourself up a cleaning area near some cold running water and make sure you have a sharp knife and a container to put waste into.

Step 2

Firstly, the head needs to be removed. Grab a hold of the head, with the tentacles in the palm of your hand, and gently pull.

Another advantage to cleaning calamari after they’ve been in the fridge is that the flesh and entrails become more rigid. This means that when you remove the head, most of the entrails will come out at the same time. Even more importantly, the ink sack will come away without discharging. Well, most of the time anyway.

Step 3

The two side flaps and the skin around the main tube can then be removed by pushing your thumb under one of the flaps, then peeling the whole lot away as one piece. Don’t worry if it tears part way through the peeling. It’s easy enough to start again and continue to work your way around the tube.

Step 4

Now you’re left with a clean white tube. If you want to make calamari rings, you’ll need to pick out any remaining entrails and the backbone from inside the tube before cutting them into rings.

It is possible to invert the tube by pushing the very end in with your finger. It will start to roll back on itself and reveal the inside layer of the tube. That certainly makes for a more thorough cleaning of the inner surface and avoids the need to individually clean each tube if rings are the way you want to go.

I prefer to slice the tube open, remove the entrails and the clear ‘plastic’ like backbone, then cut the calamari into strips when it comes time to cook. It’s much easier.

Step 5

After a quick rinse and wipe down, you’ll be left with a flat piece of beautiful white flesh.

If you don’t intend to eat them fresh (and you must be eating some good tucker if that’s the case) then lay them flat in individual plastic bags and put them in the freezer. Calamari freezes remarkably well, and keeps for ages.

Too Easy

Cleaning squid doesn’t have to equate to slime and ink over all and sundry.

Doing it this way is easy, quick and you won’t end up looking like a 5 year old who’s been finger painting all day.


Before You Toss It

Calamari heads can be saved and used as snapper or gummy shark bait next time you’re out on the water. It’s sensational bait and just too good to throw away!

If you can’t use it fresh then freeze it, but here’s a tip. Hang onto any ink and saltwater that calamari discharge onboard, usually in some kind of container.

Once you have your calamari heads, put them into an ice cream container and fill it up with this mixture. Put the lid on carefully and place it in the freezer.

Prepared this way, the calamari heads will keep super fresh.

When it’s time to cast out a squid head on a snapper rig, all the ink that has marinated the head makes a black plume in the current. Snapper see it and think there’s a squid in trouble not far away.

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