Squid

(year round)

Also called Calamari.

The Meat:

Local squid are one of the most awesomely delicious creatures in the seven seas, they can be sauteed, deep fried, grilled, stuffed, broiled etc. But most SF citizens rarely buy them raw, and when they do eat them, tend to go in for the deep fried calamari rings available pretty much everywhere. I love squid, plain and simple. But I also love the fact that they freeze so well. Which is a fishmonger's dream. In fact they are one of the few seafood items that doesn't degrade when frozen.

Prep:

Your squid will come whole. You will have to process them. But that's all part of the fun! Pull the head/tentacles out of the tube. With one slice cut the eyed portion of the head away—leaving the tentacles. Remove the beak from the center of the tentacles. Remove the plastic-like filament from inside the tube, and lightly scrape off the “skin” from the outside of the tube. All the white goopy guts inside the tube should also be removed. The tentacles are yummy (once you remove the eyes and the beak). The tube can be cut into rings or stuffed with yummy things.

 

Health concerns:

Squid is high in cholesterol but also contains many nutrients including Vitamin B12 and selenium. Read more about it here: Squid Benefits.

  • Scientific Name:                       Loligo opalescens

 

  • Habitat:  They mainly live in the water column from the surface to depths of 2,600 feet. They prefer the salty ocean and are rarely found in estuaries, bays, or river mouths. Market squid migrate in enormous schools throughout the eastern Pacific from southeastern Alaska to Mexico.

 

  • Diet: Common foods to feed on include various types of small fish, crabs, and shrimp.

 

  • Size: Market squid range from 6 inches to about a foot in length..

 

  • Range:  found from the southern tip of Baja California to southeastern Alaska, but are most abundant between Punta Eugenia in Baja California and Monterey Bay, California.

 

 

Facts:

2010 - present

2010 - present

Gear and fishery info:

As far as the fishery goes. In our area, the Mecca for squid is Monterey Bay. But the boats routinely travel north to fish HMB and even up into more northern parts of the state. The one local squid boat in our area is the Merva W., and you can see her down in HMB—she is the big light blue boat (see picture) parked near the party boats. The Merva is a purse seine boat. Pure seiners use a small skiff to encircle the school. A big hoist on th mothership drags the net back in. Squid boats are capable of catching huge quantities. 50-80 tons per day is not uncommon for one boat. Often squid boats work in conjunction with “light boats.” Light boats shine very bright lights down into the water. These lights attract squid like moths to a 100 watt bulb. If you are ever travelling through Monterey during the summer, and notice what looks like an huge, crazily bright city, floating around in the middle of the bay, that is most likely the local squid fleet hard at work!

Fish Nerdism 101:

And one more thing... this is by far the highest volume fishery in the state. Thousands of tons of squid are caught annually. But if they are slammed so hard, how is this sustainable? Because squid live fast and die young. A squid's entire life cycle is 11-14 months. Due to this short life span squid have evolved to reproduce at mind boggling numbers, and so they can (relatively speaking), withstand a great deal of fishing pressure. Not an unlimited amount but they are certainly more capable of rebounding from large harvest rates than many of our local species. You can catch squid yourself by using a squid jig. But you will need a boat or at the very least a kayak, to get out to them.

Parting Shots

I will never forget a trip to a very famous fish market in San Francisco several years ago. I had just brought in a bunch of night smelt and was listening to one of the salesmen rather unenthusiastically talking up Mediterranean cuttlefish to one of his chefs.  When the guy left, the salesman turned to me and said: “Here we are in California with the greatest cephalopod on earth swimming around in our local waters, and all these high end chefs are ordering Mediterranean cuttlefish... go figya.” My sentiments precisely!