Cleaning and Stuffing Squid

It takes quite a few steps to get to here

It takes quite a few steps to get to here

Here is a tutorial on how to clean and stuff squid. It is possible to buy them already cleaned but where is the fun in that? If you live somewhere where the squid is fresh, and maybe even still alive, then lucky you. I have to make a trip to the Asian market and raid their freezer section most of the time. Whether buying frozen or fresh make sure to get medium sized squid, about 4-6″ long not including the heads and tentacles. The larger the squid the tougher it will be but if they’re too small, they will not work for stuffing.

I like to fry them first before dropping the squid into marinara to finish cooking. Make sure to cook them uncovered or the skin will split. Now on to the fun part.

Wash them a lot

Wash them a lot

If using fresh then only wash them once or twice. For frozen keep soaking in cold water until it runs fairly clear.

This one didn't eat much

This one didn’t eat much

Grab the head behind the eyes and pull it away, much like deheading a shrimp. Try and get all the guts with the one pull. Then reach your finger inside the body and pull out the cartilage and any other stuff. Depending on the size of the squid and how much it ate there could be whole fish inside, but most of the time there is just chunks of white fatty stuff. You can use your fingers on the outside to push the guts out a bit too, but you will have to reach in to get the really anchored stuff. Use cold running water to help loosen anything up and rinse the inside well once it is cleaned.

Some of the head and the long strip of cartilage, there is still a lot of gunk inside to get.

Some of the head and the long strip of cartilage, there is still a lot of gunk inside to get.

The tentacles are so good

The tentacles are so good

Take the removed head and with a sharp knife cut the tentacles off right in front of the eyes. Most commercial squid have had the ink sack removed but there can be a little left so be careful. Or wear a white dress shirt like I always do to tempt fate. The tentacles are excellent additions to any sauce or stew or good by themselves as well.


Almost done

Take the tube and gently pull the spotted skin away from the flesh. Running the squid under water will help to remove it as well. Make sure to get all the skin off, including on the fins. I like to leave the fins on the body but they can be removed, just be careful not to tear a hole in the body.

A finished squid

A finished squid

Now just repeat with the other ones. Then it is on to stuffing.

Practice this a lot

Practice this a lot

For the recipe for stuffing and a look at the final product go here. Create a roll of stuffing about the size of the opening of the squid that tapers down in size much like the body does. This takes a little practice to do.

Slip it in

Slip it in

I like to organize the cleaned bodies by size. Any bodies that are torn or too small should be set aside for another dish. Push the stuffing into the casing. Do not over stuff the squid. The stuffing should go down easily and there should be at least 1/3″ space at the top that is empty. Use your finger to gently pack the stuffing down to the tip but the skin should still feel a little loose around it. The squid will tighten and shrink as it cooks so if you overdo it then the squid will split.

This is what it should look like

This is what it should look like

Almost finished

Almost finished

Take a toothpick and weave it through the top to seal the squid. If the toothpick breaks get another but make a new set of holes in the squid. Try to push it through each side at least four times.

20 more to go

20 more to go

Keep going until the stuffing is gone, starting with the largest squid and moving down in size. The stuffed squid can be made a few hours ahead of time and kept covered in the refrigerator until it is time to cook.

About Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

This blog attempts to collect some of the things I try to create with food and booze. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. My hope is to entertain and maybe help people think a little harder about what they decide to eat and drink.
This entry was posted in Dinner, Food, How to, Italian, Seafood and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Cleaning and Stuffing Squid

  1. Kristy says:

    Hmmm. Yeah, I’m still going to buy it cleaned. πŸ˜‰ I’m all for stuffing it though. This looks fantastic!!!!! I know it’s a little early to start thinking about next Christmas Eve, but I’m printing this one off as a contender for our seafood dish. We all LOVE squid.

  2. “Or wear a white dress shirt like I always do to tempt fate” hahaha
    Great tutorial, I think I will find this very useful sometime in the future!!

  3. Fabulous!
    πŸ™‚ Mandy

  4. laurasmess says:

    Great tutorial Rufus… ugh, when I get over the ‘ick’ factor I’ll definitely be giving this a go!! So glad that I found your blog. I’ll be backtracking through your posts for a while I think πŸ™‚

  5. Excellent tutorial – have to admit to not going that extra step very often and stuffing them!

  6. You have fun with that…the Old Fish Lady pays someone else to clean them these days…
    And to shuck oysters.

  7. sallybr says:

    Great tutorial! When I was doing my PhD in Brazil. The technician in the lab next toine made this dish forspecial parties. She was an older Spanish lady, fantastic cook! I have always wondered how much work it was involved. Now I know! ;-).

    Great post!

  8. Colleen says:

    Great tutorial! I’m jealous of all those people with fresh squid since I love squid. I guess I’ll have to stick to the frozen stuff too.

  9. spree says:

    Though I can’t quite imagine doing it myself, I also can’t imagine a better tutorial should I ever decide to try. Great job, greg and Katherine, and photos that really tell the story!

  10. This reminds me of the time my friend invited me over for a calamari feast. I thought, great, I’ll show up and she’ll feed me calamari! In reality, I ended up cleaning about 5 pounds of squid and THEN getting to eat calamari πŸ˜‰

  11. egg me on says:

    What a great tutorial, man, white dress shirt and all! Those little stuffed squids look amazing.

  12. Mad Dog says:

    I’ve cooked lots of squid, but never stuffed them – thanks for the incentive πŸ˜‰

  13. Courtney says:

    Okay, I’m going to have to admit I had to scroll VERY quickly through your pictures… maybe I’m still feeling a little morning sickness… I do love squid, though. I’m thinking it might be best for me to get them pre-made right about now. πŸ˜‰

  14. ChgoJohn says:

    Great “how to” post, Greg. It’s posts like these that prove just how helpful a second pair of hands can be.

  15. Great tutorial. I have never prepared squid at home, but this is helpful.

  16. Eva Taylor says:

    Great tutorial Greg, thanks; I bought uncleared squid once and winged it, pretty easy to do.
    What a coincidence, I usually wear a white shirt when dealing with a sauce or liquid that stains!

  17. A really informative tutorial and this reminds me of the first time, and perhaps the only time, I’ve had stuffed squid. We had some that were amazing in Crete, just pulled from the ocean, stuffed and grilled on an open flame. Have you tried grilling them? Really terrific. Now that I’ve seen this tutorial, I may have to try my hand at stuffing and grilling when the weather’s warmer and have bookmarked. Grilled squid and ouzo…sounds like fun!

  18. wok with ray says:

    Thank you for the tutorial on cleaning and stuffing as that is exactly how it’s done. Grilled squids are good too! πŸ™‚

  19. Stuffed squid? Impressive!

  20. petit4chocolatier says:

    What a labor of love!! Looks delicious!

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