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Best Way To Cook Squid And/Or Octopus

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I absolutely love squid and octopus and often order it when eating out in restaurants, yet I never seem to have  been able to master the art of cooking it properly at home.  I've tried the "fast cook" methods of plunging it into boiling water and cooking it at a vigorous  bubble for a few minutes...I've tried the "slow cook" methods of doing it for a couple of hours at a very gentle simmer with the lid on ….I've tried slow-braising in the oven, under foil,  with stock and  aromats - I've tried cooking the squid or octopus whole and I've tried cutting it into separate rings and tentacles before I cook it - but whichever way I do it,  although it usually turns out to be  nice and tasty,  it always seems to turn out to be far too rubbery and chewy.

 

Can anyone out there give me any tips on the best way to cook squid and octopus so that it turns out to be nicely soft  and tender?

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I rarely cook squid but we do often have octopus and I always have it slow cooked in onions, olives and tomatos.

 

I know in Greece they tend to BBQ a whole tentacle to get the charred effect but our home ovens just aren't that hot

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I love squid and octupus too so feel your pain. I've cooked it many times but rarely ever come away thinking I've nailed it. I have learnt some aspects of cooking it though which may help.

 

I've never had good results using British octopus that just has a single row of suckers and I've tried all methods such as feezing, the quid dip and so on. However, if you can find the larger mediterranean beasts with 2-3 rows of suckers then it is always far more tender. Simmonites used to sell them but no longer and I've never seen them at the Moor market. When I was in Gran Canaria a couple of years back you could buy 2 frozen for around £10 at the local spa! You could boil them for 20 minutes and they'd be lovely and tender with lemon juice and paprika.

 

I buy squid a lot and even though everyone would say "fresh is best" I tend to buy the large pack of squid tubes from the Chinese supermarket for a fiver. They tend to be thicker so less likely to go rubbery. I also find swapping squid for cuttlefish helps as, again, cuttlefish tends to be chunkier and retain a softer texture.

 

As a huge fan of Chinese (Cantonese) salt and pepper squid I've spent many a cooking session trying to perfect. I've used every type of flour and mixture imaginable; egg coatings and so on. However, I FINALLY found the recipe in Fuschia Dunlop's book and it's near perfect. Try and find it on the internet or it's in her "Every Grain of Rice" book. The main trick is that it's actually szechuan pepper she uses, not black like I have been. But the main technique I didn't know is that after deep frying the squid she then puts all the spices in a dry wok and returns the squid which gives it that extra crunch and salt and pepper taste. She also uses rice flour which I'm constantly using too now - very light and crispy.

 

I'm actually having squid for my tea too!

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Thank you Taxman and Chinaski, for your advice. I'll definitely try your methods when I can.  It's all a bit academic right now though, because my lovely (if rather eye-wateringly  expensive) local wet fishmonger has closed down indefinitely because of the Coronavirus panic, so I've got no chance of buying a squid or an octopus in the foreseeable future.

I'm also really missing my kippers and my clams!  I love a simple pan-fried pan fried kipper with a bit of brown bread and butter - and spaghetti  vongole  is one of my favourite things to make when I'm cooking for friends - so quick and so simple -  it usually impresses them -  and it's not too ridiculously expensive either!

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