Squid are widely available and extremely good, as well as being inexpensive. They are also far easier to prepare and cook than is often imagined. When my children were very young their favourite meal used to be ’squid and chips’. This was after eating it every day in Spain, where they also watched with great fascination the octopuses being beaten on the rocks to make them tender.
Smaller squid are perfectly tender as long as you don’t cook them either too long or too fiercely. Slices of squid literally need no more than a minute or two of fairly gentle cooking, just until they turn an opaque white.
I needed no encouragement from my children to cook squid frequently because I love that sweet, clean taste and texture, and their adaptability to so many flavourings and preparation methods. They are actually far easier to deal with and cook than most other fish and shellfish. If the squid you buy still contains its ink sac intact (this is what holds the ink which the creature squirts out in a thick black cloud if it wants to deter attack), save the rich and flavourful liquid to make a sauce for the squid.
Octopus are tough and need tenderizing before cooking; this is usually done by the fishmonger. Stewed gently and slowly with root vegetables, bulb fennel, tomatoes and lots of garlic, octopus produces an excellent, rich flavour and wonderful juices. I like to sprinkle chopped flat-leaved parsley over the mixture just before serving.
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