How to clean and prepare baby squid

This is a post for how to clean and prepare whole baby squid. I’m sharing this to accompany the Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid recipe that I also published today!

Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid
Ultra crispy salt and pepper squid

How to clean and prepare whole baby squid

I think the best way to show how to clean and prepare whole baby squid is to watch the video. I tried doing step photos but it would require so many!! So here’s the video, and a written description of the steps is below.

  1. Pull off tentacles – Detach the tentacles from the body of the squid. Pull slowly and in doing so you will pull most of the guts out from inside the squid. (Don’t worry, it’s not gross, it’s actually mostly white!).

  2. Remove cartilage – Inside the squid tube there is a thin bone (cartilage) that runs the length of the tube. Find the end then pull it out gently. It’s not hard to remove because it’s not attached strongly. Discard the cartilage.

  3. Clean out guts – Then squeeze out any guts remaining inside the squid, and get inside with your fingers if necessary. Discard the guts.

  4. Remove wings – Next, remove the flappy wings from the squid tube. Just grip and gently tear off. In doing so, you will probably remove some of the skin on the tube of the squid which is good – we are doing this anyway!

    Peel off most of the skin off the wings. Don’t worry if you can’t get it all off. The really thin skin won’t be tough once cooked. Set the wings aside – they are now ready for use!

  5. Remove skin – Then keep going with the skin removal from the body of the squid, leaving behind just sparkling white squid flesh. It peels off easily, as you will see in the video. Discard the skin.

    The tube is now ready for use!

  6. Remove beak (mouth) – back to the tentacles. Right in the middle of the tentacles you will feel a hard round lump which is the beak / mouth of the squid. Grip it with your fingers and pull it out. Again, this doesn’t require muscle! Then discard the beak.

  7. Cut off head – Cut the head off the tentacles. Cut between the eye and the tentacles, leaving enough flesh to hold the tentacles together in one bunch (though you can half if you want).

    And now the tentacles are ready for cooking!


And that’s it! Baby squid cleaned and ready for cooking.

Off you go to make the ultra Crispy Salt and Pepper Squid! – Nagi x

PS If all this is too daunting for you, just make Salt and Pepper Squid using pre-cleaned squid tubes sold at the fish monger that look like this:

They come from a larger squid and the walls of the tub are thicker so it’s not as soft and tender as baby squid. But as long as you don’t overcook, it is still very tender!

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