The word calamari comes from the Italian word for “squid.” This is where the name of the popular appetizer on many Italian and Australian seafood restaurants comes from. There are even a few spin-off versions of this dish, such as the Asian “salt and pepper fried squid” found on many bar menus. While many Mediterranean countries serve some variety of squid, it’s also popular across Southeast Asia.
Calamari Squid is a mollusc related to the cuttlefish and octopus which has 10 tentacles. Like its cousin the octopus, it also has a protective mechanism which releases a dark ink into the water when it senses danger.
A squid can range anywhere from 25mm long up to 24 metres!! Can you imagine that?!! But the most common size for “eating” squid is less than 30cm.
Calamari meat is firm and white with a mild, slightly sweet, almost nutty flavour. Small fried squid are often firm and chewy, which can take some getting used to. But all that chewing isn’t for nothing, because like most seafood, squid has many nutrients.
Calamari is caught and prepared as food all over the world. It’s unlike any other seafood, with it’s thin, tough flesh, that can be transformed into tender meat when cooked by artisans. The world’s oldest cuisines have long-established techniques for getting the most out of it. Long-time culinary rivals China and Italy have been frying it up for centuries, but in Greece they stuff the entire cavity with a rice farce, and Japan has so many raw and cooked preparations, it’s useless to try and count all the ways they prepare squid. No matter where you are – however, it’s likely you’ll find squid nestled in a seafood stew, tossed with noodles, or fried in bite-size pieces.
Squid has thin and fairly bland flesh compared with octopus and cuttlefish, which have thicker, more flavourful meat like that of crab or lobster. Unlike fish and shellfish, squid meat is smooth and tough, almost like rubber. If prepared well, the meat can become tender and absorb the flavours it’s cooked with, or marinated in, otherwise it can become tough and quite bland.
Is Calamari Healthy? Squid is mostly protein, with small equal percentages of fat and carbohydrates. It’s a healthy, low-calorie protein rich in zinc, niacin, and vitamin B12, which respectively help boost the immune system, metabolism, and red blood cell count.
Though all around – a very healthy ingredient, squid does have a high cholesterol count like shrimp. As is the case with any food that is low in calorie and fat on its own, the cooking method can drastically impact how healthy it is once served.
At Mudgeeraba Seafoods – we marinate the squid in secrets overnight, to create a delicate white flesh before cutting the squid bodies into unique finger-like servings, then breading them, quickly deep frying in Cottonseed Oil and serving with Salt & Pepper to taste and a wedge of lemon – Absolutely delicious!!