The squid is a close relation to the octopus. It is also related, but not as close, to clams, mussels, oysters and scallops. The bullet shaped creature has 6 arms and 2 tentacles and can be found on both coasts in waters up to 200 feet deep. There are over 300 species of squid in the world, but only a handful that are sought commercially for food. They are fast growing and have a very short lifespan usually about 6-8months. The west coast variety lives slightly longer, about 12 months. They reproduce right before they die. Because of this, the entire population is replaced annually. In the United States, the west coast squid can be found from Alaska to California. The east coast squid includes the long-finned “winter squid” and the short-finned “summer squid”. These are found in coastal waters from Canada to North Carolina. Going by such names as ink fish, calamari, taw taw and sea arrow, they average 8 ounces and less than 12 inches in length. The summer squid, which is slightly larger than the other types, is the most fished commercially. Some other species, which are not fished for food, have been known to reach 46 feet in length.
The edible parts of the squid include the tentacles, the tube and the fins. Raw, its meat should be free of slime with a fresh sweet smell and have a milky-white translucent color. Yellow, pink or purple colored flesh is a sign of deterioration. When cooked the meat should change to opaque white. Squid can be purchased fresh, frozen or canned. If bought fresh, it can be kept for 2-3 days refrigerated or up to 3 months frozen.
How to clean and cook squid.