Hawkesbury River Squid – the full colour guide to cleaning squid and calamari

Here I’m going to show you how to clean squid / calamari, and follow up next time with a simple recipe for Salt & Pepper Squid.

2 medium squid usually does well for 4 people for a starter sized dish. I personally think a main course size of this would be overdoing a good thing!


These chaps are local, Hawkesbury River squiddies, beautifully fresh – see the bright clear eyes – and the fishmonger assured me that you don’t need to de-skin them, but the same instructions would apply to any squid.

First, cut the tentacles just below the eyes. IMG_0574

If you catch the beak, just pop it out as shown here, and cut off:IMG_0580


Next grasp the head just behind the eyes, and give a firm but reasonably gentle pull, perhaps twisting slightly as you go. The entire innards should come out in one go:IMG_0575

In the picture above you can see the empty body, with the pale guts and transparent quill at the bottom. Any black stuff is the harmless (indeed, edible) squid ink.

You may need to remove the clear, plastic looking quill separately or it may come out with the guts. Discard the head, innards and quill.

I’ve sliced open the larger of my two squid so you can see what the inside looks like immediately after removing the guts:IMG_0582

See? Really clean, isn’t it. Easy. There’s a little bit of not unpleasantly slimy stuff to just pull away, (the vaguely under-done-egg-white looking stuff in the middle of the picture above) which you can do while rinsing it under running water.

If you do want to remove the skin, it’s simple to do so, just peel it away as here:IMG_0584

Now slice the squid into bite sized pieces, rings or slices, makes little difference; unless you want it to look terribly posh, in which case you might want to stick to one or the other. IMG_0585The smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook. No need to score the slices, these squid are small and delicate and don’t need it. Everything here is edible. Don’t forget to trim off the ‘wings’ and use those too.

Now you’re ready to apply your favourite squid recipe!


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