askST: What is the best way to prepare and cook squid?

The key to tender, supple squid is in the way you clean, prepare, marinate and cook it.
The key to tender, supple squid is in the way you clean, prepare, marinate and cook it. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

A reader asked: "When I cook squid, it smells fishy and also becomes tough and chewy. What is the best way to prepare and cook it?"

Food correspondent Rebecca Lynne Tan answers.

The key to tender, supple squid is in the way you clean, prepare, marinate and cook it.

When cleaning the squid, it is better to strip off the outer purplish-pink membrane. It is edible but it is this membrane that tends to become chewy when cooking. Also, squid looks a lot more appetising without it.

Rinse the squid, then detach the head and tentacles from the main body by tugging at the base of the head. At this stage, the innards and the quill should come out too.

Run a sharp knife across the base of the eye. Discard the eye, innards and quill. Keep the arms and tentacles but push out the beak or the hard inedible cartilege mouth piece located near the section that you had cut through.

Next, run your thumb along the part where the wing is connected to the main body of the squid to separate the membrane from the tube. You should now be able to peel off the membrane easily.

Butterfly the squid, remove residual innards, wash, pat dry with paper towels, then cut into smaller pieces.

Watch ST Food's step-by-step video for a better idea on how to do it.

Chef-owner Petrina Loh of Morsels in Dempsey Hill also recommends scoring the squid in a quilted pattern and marinating cleaned squid in milk or buttermilk overnight. The liquid helps to tenderise the cephalopod.

You can also marinate it with a spice rub or with simple ingredients such as chilli, garlic and lemon juice.

Chef Loh's rule of thumb when it comes to cooking squid is: low heat, long time; and high heat, short time.

For instance, if braising it, do it over low heat for a few hours.

If grilling it, use a hot skillet and grill for 30 seconds. Sauteeing also calls for a pan on high heat and cooking pieces of squid for no longer than 30 to 45 seconds.

rltan@sph.com.sg

Twitter @STrebeccatan

Watch ST Food's Basic Kitchen Tips video on how to clean and prepare squid http://str.sg/4nAz.