In New Zealand, March is prime time for fresh arrow squid. As well as the already cleaned tubes, whole squid can be bought from fish markets. Squid is mildly flavoured and an economical choice.
To prepare whole squid, hold the squid tail in one hand and the head in the other. Twist and firmly pull apart. The head and innards should easily slip out of the body. The head is discarded but the tentacles can be used along with the squid tube which should be washed and the quill (bone) and skin removed.
The black ink can be kept to flavour and colour Spanish rice dishes (see above). You will find the ink sac in the innards. It looks like a black vein, and it is easily removed with your fingernail. Simply puncture the ink sac and squeeze it into a tablespoon of wine or cooking liquid. Be sure, though, to wear gloves. The ink is very black! Tiny amounts of squid ink are also located behind the eyes.
Pre-frozen squid tubes make life easy. From the fish market or at the supermarket, the tubes are sold frozen. A bonus, the freezing helps makes the squid tenderer so it’s harder to overcook. Bags of pre-frozen squid tubes are usually already peeled. Check first.
As for whole squid, you may need to remove the quill if it’s there (simply pull it out from inside the tube).
Skin left on makes things chewy. The key to tender squid is to cook it very quickly at high heat – between 30 seconds and two minutes. Alternatively, cook squid slowly for at least half an hour, roasting or baking it. Although it may not be needed with most pre-frozen tubes, squid flesh can be tenderised by pounding it with a food mallet or immersing it in a liquid that contains the enzymes needed to break down protein such as milk, buttermilk, the juice of green pawpaw, pineapple or kiwifruit. Or try soaking the tubes in soda water for around 20 minutes before drying and frying.! Do be careful not to tenderise for too long or you will get a mushy texture.