Learn how to clean squid with step-by step instructions and a video (above). Make sure to read the tips on best ways to cook squid above.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Keyword calamari, squid
Prep Time 10minutes
Total Time 10minutes
1lbcalamari amount as needed
Separate the head:
Pick up the squid and hold it firm but not too tight by the mantle (body). Slowly but firmly pull by the head to pull all the innards out from inside the mantle. You can use a little twisted motion to help separate the innards.
If you had some innards still left inside the mantle, place it on the cutting board and gently squeeze and push them out of the opening.
Cut off tentacles and take out the beak:
Cut the space right above where tentacles attach to the head and below the eye. Look underneath the tentacles to see the beak. You will want to squeeze to retract the beak and gently pull it out. It should come out pretty easy.
Remove the cuttlebone (cartilage):
The cartilage is also known as cuttlebone and is a thin piece of flat and clear bone. It’s very easy to pull out so just grab it at the mantle opening and pull in one gentle motion. If the cartilage was broken, you can push it through the top as well.
Ink Sack (optional):
The ink sack could have come out with the innards and it actually quite good to flavor pastas and rice dishes. If you got it, feel pretty lucky because many seafood markets harvest it first to sell.
Ink sack looks like a small black vein inside, among the innards. Gently pull it out and try not to pop it. To get the ink out, puncture it with a tip of the knife and squeeze into a tablespoon of water, broth, or white wine. That liquid can be added when making pasta. (A little will go a long way!)
Take off the skin:
You can be done right here or you can take it a step further and clean off the skin. Many chefs prefer to keep the skin on because it’s edible and very pretty. On the other hand, many do believe that clean white looking calamari makes a better presentation.
To clean off the skin, simply pinch it at the opening of the body and gently pull it off. It peels off fairly easy and if it rips, just pinch and pull again.
Fins: If you are making calamari and want perfect little rings, you should remove the fins. They are edible so you can use them in the calamari as well. Just slice them into strips.
Rinse out the mantle and the tentacles in the cold water. Make sure to rinse out inside the body well!