With more types of seafood becoming nearly extinct or too expensive to afford every day, I’m always looking for delicious, healthy, sustainable, affordable, preferably local seafood. Two of my favorites come from the Monterey Bay and fit all the requirements above: Sardines and squid. Unfortunately, both can be daunting to clean. I picked up 3/4 of a pound of nice looking fresh squid at the Berkeley Bowl for something like a buck-fifty. Can’t beat that. Don’t be tempted to get the already cleaned version. It’s more expensive, it was processed in China and caught who knows where, and it won’t taste as good.
The best written instructions I’ve ever seen for cleaning squid come from Andrea Nguyen’s book, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, a stellar book that I highly recommend. This is her method with photos to aid understanding.
With the dull edge of the knife, scrape the squid so that the gunk inside falls into a bowl positioned under the cutting board. Do this several times to get as much gunk as possible and at the same time, scrape off the mottled skin so the squid is clean white. Turn the squid over and do both sides.
Here’s what it will look like.
Reach inside the body and pull the bony quill out, making sure to get it all.
Place all the cleaned squid in the colander and rinse thoroughly, letting the water run through the bodies to remove any remaining sliminess. Drain and cut the squid as your recipe directs.
This salad is a variation on one in Paul Johnson’s excellent book, Fish Forever, for which I tested all the recipes. To prepare squid so it is tender, you either have to cook it for 30 seconds or something like 30 minutes. Anything in between produces tough rubber bands. To cook the squid for this salad, all you have to do is bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the cut squid. Once the water returns to a boil, turn the heat off and let sit for 30 seconds. Drain, rinse and immediately toss in a simple, spicy fish sauce-based dressing. Then you add whatever vegetables you’re using. I used different ones than Paul’s recipe-purple cabbage, lettuce, green onions, herbs, carrot, avocado, and served it over rice noodles. Easy peasy, healthy, no fat, and fantastic.