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Nov 3, 2006 10:49 PM

Squid- The insides of the squid

Does anyone know if the insides (the clear gel) of the squid body are edible?

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  1. Throw that away! You want the body and the tentacles. Remove the beak too, found in trhe middle of the tentacles.

    1. The guts won't hurt you, but personally I find it disgusting.

      In my experience it's usually not clear. Sometimes there's half-digested food, which sometimes includes smaller squid.

      1. I agree about removing all the innards (stomach, gonads, etc.). I also recommend removing the thin shiny membrane covering the outside of the mantle (body) if it is still there and the cartilagilous "fins".

        Squid anatomy:

        1 Reply
        1. re: maviris

          The fins are fine, they make odd looking calamari and are slightly chewier than the body meat, but I don't throw them out!

        2. At authentic sushi bars, they will sometimes offer shiokara, which my favorite sushi bar translates as "salted squid guts." Very strongly flavored, but tasty. Sortof an off pink color. Don't know how it's made or what kind of squid and guts are used, so I certainly wouldn't try to make it at home.


          4 Replies
          1. re: Ed Dibble

            I have a recipe for it - if you dare ask - in "Quick and Easy tsukemono."

            Tried this once...only thing I will not eat again - without copious amounts of sake.

            1. re: kare_raisu

              If you ever get to Sakura in SD, try it there. Kazu makes it himself, and it is quite good. Of course, sake does help.


            2. re: Ed Dibble

              Ah yes... the infamous salty, fermented, squid guts. GAG!

              1. re: JMF

                Even most Japanese don't like to eat it so much. It's not generally a good part of the squid compared to the leg, IMO.

            3. Here's an old post of mine where I explain how shiokara is made, at least how I was taught to make it, and also a way to "make sense of it".

              Essentially I argue that a lot of shiokara's "nasty rep" is due to some very unfriendly English descriptions on menus and product packages. It's hard to imagine a more repulsive name than "fermented squid with the guts". Indeed the average American is probably pre-disposed to cringe at even the thought of eating any cephalopod, (many CH'ers and foodies excluded, of course, as well as lovers of deep- or pan-fried calamari steaks and rings!), let alone one that's advertised as being fermented with it's guts! But as many have learned to enjoy squid and octopus even in it's more unadorned forms at the sushi bar, the cephalopod barrier is just a distant memory for many.

              So I say it's time to rethink shiokara, and in the meantime also retweak the English desciption. Yes, shiokara definitely contains squid, so that part stays, and yes it is definitely fermented, so we keep that part of the name too. But I say we banish the part of its name that's the least "marketing friendly", the "guts" part, and simply replace it with "liver". (After all there are many who love the taste of liver, right?)

              And this "reform" is by no means an attempt to try and hide what's in this much-maligned dish. On the contrary shiokara uses the squid's liver only and does not use the rest of its guts. The squid happens to have a very large liver in proportion to the rest of its body, and it's the liver's contents that makes up half of the shiokara, the other half being simply sliced squid. The rest of the squid is quite happily discarded when making up a shiokara. (Phew! There can be some funky-looking things in there. No, your squid didn't swallow a floating piece of sea-faring plastic. ***That*** is just its plastic-like quill!) To this simple two-part mixture, salt, chili pepper, and sometimes citrus zest is added.

              So while this may not be enough of a name reform to inaugurate a new flood of shiokara fans, at least it might bring in those who have stayed on the shiokara "sidelines", scared away from playing the game by the thought of "fermented guts" but otherwise would have given it the 'old college try. So to those brave souls the coach is calling you to get back on the field - it's your turn.

              Squid, it's liver, salt, chili pepper, citrus zest - that's all - and yes, it's fermented. To me this hardly sounds worthy of being the subject of a "Fear Factor" challenge, nor the subject of many "strange/bizarre" food websites. ...and doesn't the squid illustration look pretty cute and harmless, afterall?

              Your thoughts?

              5 Replies
              1. re: cgfan

                Very thoughtful post Cgfan, it does make me rethink my initial aversion to the dish. I love tomalley in the lobster (also liver, although i may sadly have developed an aversion to the stuff :( ) so how is squid liver any different? Love your squid picture too.

                We had better get used to squid! Squid and jellyfish may be the only seafood left soon, the rate we are overfishing. If I see Shiokara on a menu, I shall certainly give it a try. But I fear that may have to wait for a trip to Japan, as I have never seen it on a menu here in North America. I obviously need to search out more authentic sushi bars.

                1. re: moh

                  The shiokara might be easier to find than you might otherwise think. If your sushi bar is traditionally-run and has a Japanese chef, than odds are high that he will have shiokara prepared, if for no other reason than for his own consumption. This is because it's an effective way of using more of the squid, such as its tentacles and the "ears", both of which are generally not used for sushi. Traditionally-run, I say, since these will be the shops that actually still preps their fish "from scratch", rather than use pre-prepped fish from their vendor. I've never seen it listed on a sushi bar menu myself, but it's almost always available if you ask.

                  Another place to ask is at an izakaya. Many will have shiokara, though at an izakaya I'd expect it to be explicitly listed on the menu and not an "off-menu" item. (Izakaya are Japanese-style pubs, and the food offerings are meant to go with drink. Shiokara is a classic bar-type dish to complement drink...)

                  Though beef liver tastes different than chicken liver, and different still to that of monkfish liver and goose liver, etc., I find that there's a common taste to any liver that I've ever eaten. I can't describe it, but the recognition is there. I trust that anyone who enjoys liver would see the "logic" in squid liver and it's use in shiokara.

                  And I also should have mentioned - though shiokara is typically fermented, I actually end up consuming most of it immediately after preparation, by which time it definitely is not fermented yet. So if it's in part the fermentation that makes you leery, ask your sushi chef or izakaya when it was last prepared. More often than not it's probably still pretty fresh, and usually at most a few days to a week "old".

                  I'm glad you're considering giving it another try. One's expectations to a dish can be so colored by its naming, and can even affect one's perception of its taste. Every time I see shiokara translated as "fermented squid and guts" it makes me cringe too, and this is coming from someone who enjoys it!

                  Descriptions like that reminds me of Dan Akroyd's infamous "Bass-O-Matic" skit on SNL, where he runs a blender info-mercial that's used to blend a whole bass, skin, bones, guts, head and all, into a nutritious drink. Well I can assure everyone that shiokara is not the Japanese equivalent of squid processed in a Bass-O-Matic!

                2. re: cgfan

                  You may be right about a name/description change. The first time I had it, I was drinking after hours with a sushi chef who I knew well, and he pulled out a jar of it and let me try it. I think he was surprised when I said I liked it, and then he told me what it was.

                  But I hadn't had it again until I found it on the menu at Izakaya Sakura in San Diego - where it is very well prepared. However, I'm not sure if I would have ordered it if I hadn't had it before.

                  Of course, sometimes I will order the weirdest sounding thing on a menu, figuring that if it sounds really weird to an old white guy, it is probably intended for a different, more interesting customer base.


                  1. re: cgfan

                    I happen to have acquired a taste for shiokara during a fairly lengthy stay (eight years) in Japan back in the 1960's. As an accompaniment to a cold beer or a cup of warm sake I can think of nothing better with the possible exception of Korean spicy fermented squid.

                    I am lucky enough to live in an area (Nashville, Tn.) where both are available.

                    1. re: cgfan

                      Wow, thanks for the visual of a squid. I find them to be delicious!