Squid Tutorial

Over the years I’ve moaned and groaned about not having access to beautiful, fresh seafood, because I live in a land-locked state. Those of you who live on the coasts, or just about anywhere in Europe, have no idea how different it is to not have a seafood market or, better yet, a personal fish monger. As a result, I have minimal experience working with fish, outside of cleaning fresh trout when we fish in Colorado.

But I decided to put an end to my complaining, and order some seafood online from (hopefully) a reputable source. I ordered 5 pounds of frozen whole squid from a fish market in Seattle. Fortunately it came in two 2.5 pound packages so I was able to keep one frozen and thaw the other.

Ordering squid rings would have been easier, but I couldn’t find them, and honestly, it was a good experience to learn about the creatures as I cleaned and prepared them. It made me happy, like an Italian grandma!

If you’ve never cleaned squid, you’ll enjoy this tutorial. If you have lots of experience with seafood, well then I have some expletives for you, cause I’m jealous!

There are two parts to a squid.


A body or tube, and a head with tentacles attached.

The first step is to pull the head out of the body; set the head aside. Head instructions below.

Have a large bowl of clean water on hand. I rinsed the squid 4-5 times during the cleaning process.

Remove the fins from the tail end of the squid, by just pulling them off.

Then remove the skin, by simply grabbing it and pulling on it; the skin comes off easily.

You now have a body, but there is a cartillagenous back bone. See it sticking out? It goes from neck to tail.

I used tweezers to pull out the back bone.

Next is to remove the innards of the squid bodies. Use your fingers to soften the insides, and then just squeeze them out just like you’re squeezing sausage out of its casing.

Rinse the squid well, refreshing the water a few times.

Next you must clean the head and tentacle end of the squid.

Do this by placing the head on a cutting board, and cutting right above the eye. Discard the eyeball and anything attached to it.

Using your fingers, pinch the tentacle end, and right where you sliced, and out should pop the beak of the squid. Discard those as well.

Now, you have clean squid bodies to use for stuffing, or to slice into rings, as I did.

And you also have tentacles, all ready to cook!

I especially love squid on salads.

In Nice I enjoyed fire-grilled calamari just by themselves and they were magnificent!

If you’ve never had squid, I encourage you try it. They’re not fishy. Yes, they have a texture, but they are not rubbery. If you’ve had rubbery squid, then they were overcooked, just like rubbery chicken.

Recently I made a Nigella pasta recipe using squid rings and tentacles. Try it and you’ll see how easy they are to cook!

By Published On: February 7th, 201847 Comments

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!

47 Comments

  1. Healthy World Cuisine February 7, 2018 at 6:22 AM - Reply

    Great informative post Mimi! Love fresh seafood. Miss the wet markets in HK when the squid were still swimming.

    • chef mimi February 7, 2018 at 6:58 AM - Reply

      Thanks, Bobbi! Did you move back to the states?

  2. Silvia February 7, 2018 at 6:29 AM - Reply

    I hear you when you say that is hard to leave far away from the coast! Now that we moved in Midwest I miss Italian fresh seafood every single day! Never thought about buying it online, but now you have shared your experience I will definitely do it, and make treasure of your tutorial! Thanks for sharing!

    • chef mimi February 7, 2018 at 7:00 AM - Reply

      Thank you for your comment. If you moved from Italy, then I really feel your pain!

  3. StefanGourmet February 7, 2018 at 7:05 AM - Reply

    Great tutorial, Mimi. (The skin comes off slightly less easily from fresh squid.) You should make stuffed squid from the recipe on my blog :-)

    • chef mimi February 7, 2018 at 7:07 AM - Reply

      Good to know. The thing is, I haven’t been able to find large squid online.

  4. Tasty Eats Ronit Penso February 7, 2018 at 7:55 AM - Reply

    Great tutorial! I’m glad you’ve found a solution for the lack of fresh seafood. :)

    • chef mimi February 7, 2018 at 8:04 AM - Reply

      A limited solution, but I’ll keep searching! I’d really love to find large rings!

  5. Bill February 7, 2018 at 9:01 AM - Reply

    I doubt most people know how much prep work goes into that fried calamari appetizer. Great look at it, thank you. As a fellow landlocked state dweller, I feel your pain.

    • chef mimi February 7, 2018 at 9:34 AM - Reply

      Hahahaha! I’m sorry!

  6. kitchenriffs February 7, 2018 at 10:01 AM - Reply

    Great tutorial! And squid freezes really well — it’s a great way to buy it. I haven’t made anything with squid in ages, and you definitely have me craving it. :-)

    • chef mimi February 7, 2018 at 10:19 AM - Reply

      Good to know about freezing. Which is probably why the quality seemed good (although I’m sure nothing like right out of the water.)

  7. anotherfoodieblogger February 7, 2018 at 10:05 AM - Reply

    Excellent tutuorial! Even though I’m well-versed in cleaning the various fish I’ve caught, I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do with a squid.

    • chef mimi February 7, 2018 at 10:19 AM - Reply

      That’s all I know – how to clean trout!

  8. Sippitysup February 7, 2018 at 11:15 AM - Reply

    Wow this is such an informative post. I live in Los Angeles and seafood is abundant but I’ve never taken the time to learn this properly. No more buying precleaned for me.

  9. Kanika Samra February 7, 2018 at 1:10 PM - Reply

    Wow! this is so educative. Who would’ve thought so much work goes in that squid pasta that I can order in just a few minutes. Mimi, your blog is full of life. Really enjoy it and your encouragement on our blog Kitchenpostcards. You’ll see two of us- Kanik and Sakshi- post there alternatively.

  10. Chica Andaluza February 7, 2018 at 3:19 PM - Reply

    In Spain they tend not to clean the squid at the local fishmongers, just in the large supermarkets so I got used to doing it…it’s worthwhile, we love it!

    • chef mimi February 7, 2018 at 6:38 PM - Reply

      I agree! And, it was fun and educational.

  11. Abbe@This is How I Cook February 7, 2018 at 6:30 PM - Reply

    Mimi, this is a great post! I’ve seen them cleaned before and I’ve seen them frozen, but I’ve never thought to do it myself. It’s time I get brave enough and do it myself!

    • chef mimi February 7, 2018 at 6:37 PM - Reply

      I thought it was fun and interesting!

  12. heather (delicious not gorgeous) February 7, 2018 at 10:55 PM - Reply

    i’m a little scared of cooking and cleaning squid, but this is super helpful! i think once i get pass the feel of them in my hands, i’d be okay (;

    • chef mimi February 8, 2018 at 6:40 AM - Reply

      Hahahaha! If you love eating them, that should be enough motivation!

  13. Conor Bofin February 8, 2018 at 7:26 AM - Reply

    Lovely post Mimi. Great to see you getting your hands dirty. Squid is not for the squeamish.
    It is well worth the effort.

    • chef mimi February 8, 2018 at 7:34 AM - Reply

      It definitely is worth the effort. I’m not squeamish but I want nothing to do with killing animals. Although I do fish, so that makes little sense, doesn’t it?!!

  14. goatsandgreens February 8, 2018 at 10:42 AM - Reply

    Excelllent tutorial, and awesome photography! I do sorta live near a coast (though I just moved one state away and am seriously hunting for some good local seafood…)

    • chef mimi February 8, 2018 at 10:58 AM - Reply

      Arrrggghhhhh. I understand that predicament!

  15. Linda Duffin February 9, 2018 at 9:32 AM - Reply

    Great tutorial. I love squid, cooked hard and fast or low and slow.

  16. Melissa Gillan February 9, 2018 at 2:33 PM - Reply

    Love the texture of squid but never imagined so much work involved. Gorgeous salad!

    • chef mimi February 9, 2018 at 3:31 PM - Reply

      It went pretty fast once I figured out what to do!

  17. Julie is Hostess At Heart February 9, 2018 at 3:08 PM - Reply

    Your are so talented. Now I know why I buy it frozen! That backbone looked wicked!

    • chef mimi February 9, 2018 at 3:32 PM - Reply

      I don’t know if that’s talent, but thanks!

  18. David February 10, 2018 at 3:03 PM - Reply

    Excellent tutorial, Mimi! Luckily, even though I live in a desert and a landlocked state, I can get pretty good squid anytime. Only once in my life have I had to clean it. Your words described it perfectly for someone who’s never done it. Brava!

    • chef mimi February 10, 2018 at 4:22 PM - Reply

      Thank you! You’re lucky you can get it, seriously!

  19. canelakitchen February 10, 2018 at 4:35 PM - Reply

    Looks wonderful ! excellent tutorial Mimi! thanks

    • chef mimi February 11, 2018 at 8:07 AM - Reply

      Thank you!

  20. Frank Fariello February 11, 2018 at 7:28 AM - Reply

    I love squid—but then again, I don’t know any Italian-Americans who don’t…

    Ordering online has become a real lifesaver for me, too. Not with seafood, which I can fortunately get easily here on the east coast, but with some Italian specialty products that you can’t find in stores, and even other products like leaf lard that *should* be easy to find–in my opinion at least–but have fallen of a fashion.

    • chef mimi February 11, 2018 at 7:29 AM - Reply

      Leaf lard? I hope that’s a typo!

  21. Claudia February 11, 2018 at 10:04 AM - Reply

    Yes! Fresh squid does not exist in Minnesota (nor should it). Never thought about getting fish on line. Food for thought. (Fish for thought.) Grand tutorial.

    • chef mimi February 11, 2018 at 10:37 AM - Reply

      Thank you Claudia!

  22. Susan (@savoringtime) February 12, 2018 at 11:10 AM - Reply

    What a great tutorial! Not sure I’ll have the courage to try it, but I do love squid so who knows?!

  23. Kelly, RD February 12, 2018 at 8:42 PM - Reply

    I had no idea cleaning and preparing squid was so involved! I can get it fresh where I live but, never have! I will definitely give cooking it a try!

  24. Ron February 13, 2018 at 6:02 AM - Reply

    Excellent tutorial. We live in one of those lucky areas and have squid at the fishmonger regularly. But, if you purchase pre-cleaned squid, they are much costlier. So, we clean our own and I’m glad to report that your technique is spot on.

    • chef mimi February 13, 2018 at 7:35 AM - Reply

      Oh, thanks! Good to know!

  25. olivesandfeta February 15, 2018 at 3:49 AM - Reply

    I love squid. Especially as a risotto. You can clean it while I cook it perhaps 😉

    • chef mimi February 15, 2018 at 6:28 AM - Reply

      Hahahahaha! Deal.

  26. libarah September 30, 2018 at 9:38 AM - Reply

    Thank you for the info 👍🏻

    • chef mimi September 30, 2018 at 4:40 PM - Reply

      You are so welcome!

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