Sotong masak hitam, or squid cooked in its own ink
An adobo variation. Plus a guide to cleaning squid.
What does the phrase ‘squid ink’ conjure in your mind? If you are/were anything like me growing up, squid ink meant paella, pasta, or a jarred paste sold exclusively at high-end grocers. In fact, the very first contact of squid ink that I had in the kitchen came at my first restaurant job, where I witnessed the making of a silky squid ink custard topped with lobes of uni. It was, thus, a real delight to realise that squid ink really did come from the fresh molluscs at the market, and that what I initially thought of as a very highbrow ingredient was actually very common man after all!
I was at the market the past weekend and couldn’t resist getting some squid to make sotong masak hitam, because, in the town where I live, calamari tubes are the only option. I’m guessing that preparing whole squid can be too fiddly for some, but frankly it is nothing too complex. The steps are as follows:
Separate the mantle from the tentacles: Place one hand on the squid’s mantle and the other on the tentacles, and pull gently in opposing directions.
Remove the quill: In the now-hollow tube you will find a plastic-looking thing called the quill. Discard it.
Separate the tentacles and extract the ink sac: With a knife or a pair of scissors, make a cut right under the squid’s eyes. That will leave you with the tentacles, and the squid’s eyes with its entrails. Extract the tiny silver pouch (the ink sac) by snipping it off with a pair of scissors, being very careful not to puncture it.
Remove the beak: At the point where you cut the tentacles would be a hard bead resembling a pearl - this is known as the beak and is the feeding orifice of the squid. You might have to invert the tentacles to expose it. This can simply be removed by squeezing the tentacles gently.
Cleaning the mantle: You should have the mantle, tentacles, and ink sacs. Rinse the interior of the mantle thoroughly rubbing it with your fingers or a small spoon to remove any debris within. On an occasion or two, I’ve found a half-digested fish! If there are any egg sacs within (these are lobes with a soft gummy texture), gently remove them and save them to add to the dish. They are delicious!
Cutting the squid: Slice the mantle up into rings and, if you are using large squid, cut the tentacles into two or three pieces.