Squid and cuttlefish belong to the same family, decapod cephalopoda, shell-less mollusks with 10 tentacles. They are cousins, and although they are sometimes known by the same name in certain regions, they are really quite different. In France, a squid is known as a calmar or calamar. Another name for it is encornet. On the Basque Country coast, it is known as a « chipiron »; in the south of France, it is called a « supion » or « piste », while small squid are known as « calamaretti » in Italy. The squid has a long body, with two fins, a small head containing a hard beak, and ten tentacles covered in suckers. The body, known as the mantle, is covered with a blackish membrane. The head contains an ink sac. Squid can range between 10 cm and 50 cm in size. More than 300 species have been recorded, living in all of the planet's seas and oceans, more commonly in schools, some of which are found closer to the coast, while others live in the depths. Squid are caught throughout the year in France, although the best months are March and May, and October and November in the English Channel and North Sea, between September and December in the Atlantic, and between September and April in the Mediterranean.

Squid should be shiny and pearly, and should have a pleasant sea smell. The smallest squid are the best. Small squid are sold whole, while the largest are sometimes cleaned and trimmed. Squid are sold frozen, cut into fillets (larger squid), rings, or as a block of tentacles.

When it is small and whole, the head of the squid should be removed from the body and the beak removed. Then the body and tentacles are cleaned in iced water to protect their delicate nature.

Once dry, squid should be cooked whole and always for a very short time, either pan-fried or in court-bouillon, otherwise it will become tough. The bodies of the larger squid can be cooked whole, then stuffed, or cut into rings, crumbed, and fried. The heads are used to make fumet.

Squid are delicate, particularly the smaller ones, and should be cooked on the day of purchase. However, they can be kept for a day or two in the refrigerator at 1 to 5ºC.

Squid are high in protein and fairly low in fat. They contain minerals and the B-group vitamins, especially B12.

Premium subscription

Gain unlimited access to 1,000 recipes from the greatest chefs

1,000 recipes from the greatest chefs, with step-by-step illustrations and videos

Tips and tricks from
30 top chefs

Interactive videos make it easy to recreate dishes and master techniques at home

Subscribe now
Cancel anytime