Seafood Guide: What Is Calamari

One way or another, you’ve stumbled upon calamari seafood at some point in your life. It’s quite possible you’ve seen it on a restaurant menu, at the local market, or heard about it from a friend. 

However, it’s also common for people not to be sure what squid meat actually is. Yes, calamari seafood is squid meat. If that’s new information to you, there is still plenty to learn.

Luckily, you’re in the right place to do just that. In this blog, we’ve prepared all the information you need about seafood of this type.

We’ll tell you what is calamari, talk about calamari taste, give you the most popular ways to prepare it, and much more. So, wait no more and start learning.

Of course, to try the best seafood dishes in Miami, visit Bayshore Club.

What Is Calamari?

If you rely on your friends’ knowledge, you’ve likely heard different answers to the famous question – what is calamari? Unfortunately, only one of them is true.

First, let’s explain the name. It comes from the Italian word “calamaro,” which means squid. So, the myths you’ve heard about calamari being octopus or pig rectum aren’t true. Calamari seafood is, in fact, a specific type of squid meat. 

Among the hundreds of species of squid, only a small number are edible. And among the edible ones, a few special species are used to make calamari.

These squids, according to the director of culinary affairs at the Institute of Culinary Education – Herve Malivert, are no longer than a foot and have thinner and more tender flesh than other species. The meat’s characteristics make it cook quicker. 

Also, remember that calamari comes white both before and after cooking. But, it will be more opaque after some time in the heat.

Where Can Calamari Be Found?

The great thing about squid is that it can be found pretty much everywhere. In fact, it is present in every sea and ocean in the world, except for the Black Sea. 

When it comes to the United States, most of the calamari comes from California and Rhode Island. 

Since it’s so available worldwide, squid has found its way into plenty of diets and cuisines. Southern Europe, the Mediterranean region, and East Asia are some of the areas where eating calamari is a custom.

The United States has a different kind of relationship with squid meat. Until the 70s, it was used only as bait. And we couldn’t find it on markets until other types of fish became harder to catch. This led to fishermen and chefs working with other sources, including squid meat. By the 80s, calamari was present on seafood menus across the country.

Today, about 22 million pounds of calamari is fished from Rhode Island yearly. Most of that is longfin squid that comes from Cape Cod, MA, and Cape Hatteras, NC. This type of squid can also be fished from the Gulf of Venezuela and Newfoundland, a province in Canada.

The pacific loligo squid dominates the California market. It comes from Baja and Monterey Bay, CA, but it can also be found in some parts of Alaska.

What Does Calamari Taste Like?

Naturally, before trying something new, most people wish to know more about the food’s flavor. Calamari taste isn’t as “fishy” as most people expect. In fact, this type of seafood is known for having firm meat with a mildly sweet flavor. The chewy texture makes it quite recognizable as well.

Trying calamari by itself may not be the best idea, though, since it might be too bland. However, this type of seafood soaks in sauces quite well and will take in the flavors that are cooked along with it.

So, bring out the spices, seasonings, and sauces before you start making seafood dishes with calamari.

Seafood Dishes with Calamari

Americans are used to seeing deep-fried calamari served with marinara dipping sauce. Still, there are other ways squid flesh is prepared around the world, and these are the most popular ones:

  • Frutti di mare

This Italian pasta dish is a spicy mix of mussels, scallops, clams, shrimp, and of course, calamari.

  • Jjampong

If you’d like to try noodle soup that features calamari, along with other types of seafood, give Jjjampong a shot.

This dish comes from Spain and includes chicken, chorizo, seafood, and a rice base.

  • Fritto Misto

Seafood and vegetables! Fritto Misto includes zucchini and mushrooms, but also shrimp and calamari.

  • Ceviche

This Peruvian dish uses lime juice to “cook” the fresh seafood. Give it a shot and see why it’s so famous worldwide.

  • Yakimono

If you’re wondering what squid roasted over charcoal tastes like, try Yakimono from Japan.

  • Ika Sansai

This salad from Japan features bamboo shots, marinated vegetables, and raw squid.

Where To Buy and How To Store Calamari

Nowadays, finding calamari isn’t that difficult. 

Firstly, it’s available at most fresh fish markets. Then, some local grocery stores have it in the seafood section. And finally, the frozen section at the supermarket often includes a calamari selection.

The frozen product might be the easiest to work with, as it comes whole or previously cut into pieces or rings. Freezing also breaks down the muscle fibers and makes the squid more tender for consumption.

When it comes to cleaning, our advice is to leave it to the pros. You need to eliminate the inedible parts, which include the beak, skin, cuttlebone, and entrails. Cleaning squid can be quite messy, so our advice is to ask the fishmonger to perform the job for you kindly.

If you plan on storing calamari, remember these key points:

  • Keep the meat in an airtight container
  • Let it rest on a bed of ice
  • Try preparing it within one day

Cooked calamari can stay in the fridge for another day or two, but not longer. On the other hand, frozen calamari can stay good for up to two months. Just ensure you squeeze all the air out before putting the bag in the freezer. Labeling the bag with the expiration date is the safest way to do this.

Then, once you’re ready to use the frozen seafood, take it out of the freezer and leave it in the fridge overnight. However, keep the squid sealed in the container.

If you don’t have the time to do this, place the bag in a large bowl set under running water and wait between 5 and 10 minutes.

Cooking Calamari

There are plenty of ways to prepare squid flesh. Grilled, fried, sautéed, braised, and roasted are the most popular ways to consume calamari. Give them all a shot and see which one you prefer.

Our advice is to cook it for very little time, regardless of the method you’re using. This way, you’ll preserve the recognizable texture and flavor you are seeking.

Visit Bayshore Club

To try the best seafood dishes in Miami and the area, Visit Bayshore club. We’re located in the city’s oldest neighborhood and have plenty to offer to all seafood enthusiasts of the world.