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Cartilage in Calamari?

Over the weekend, my wife and I went to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner. We ordered the fried calamari for our appetizer, as we usually do. In my first mouthful, I thought I crunched on some sand - no problem, I thought, it's seafood, so not all that unusual. But there was more crunching. I stopped chewing and pulled out a 1/4 inch more-or-less round, thin, flat piece of what I thought was glass. I notified one of the owners, and after some investigation, I was told that the squid was not cleaned properly, and a piece of the cartilage made its way thru to plate.

Plausible explanation? I have never experienced this before, and I was just wondering if the cartilage, when cooked, could appear to be glass-like.

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  1. That's from the internal support structure of the squid. If you ever buy fresh squid, you separate the body from the legs. Then scrub the skin off and reach inside and pull out two pieces of cartilage from the body. They look like pieces of clear tapered plastic. So the explanation you received sound right to me.

    By the way, there should never be sand in your squid. Maybe clams, but not squid.

    1. Yes, there is the feather bone down the center of the squid, which is usually pulled out as part of preparation. It's about 5-6 inches long (depending on the size of the squid) and is clear.

      It's totally plausible that the kitchen didn't pull this one out before prep/service, and it got chopped up with the rest of the calamari.

      1. As the other two people have already confirmed, yes that is plausible and most likely exactly what happened.

        In all honest I take it as a bit of a good sign, that the restaurant actually buys the whole squid rather than the pre-cut rings, or worse yet pre-cut and breaded.

        I wouldn't hold this against them if you enjoyed the rest of your meal.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jrvedivici

          Thanks all for your replies!

          I suppose I just wanted confirmation on the explanation I was given. I mean, I was aware that there is a feather bone or "quill" present in a squid, I just didn't know that it would have that texture.

          The situation was handled incredibly well. We were comped the appetizer, and we were brought a fresh order. The staff couldn't have been more apologetic.

          Thanks again for your helpful replies and the education!

        2. I have never heard it called the feather bone before, though it IS feather-shaped. I've always known it as the quill. Whole, fresh, uncleaned squid used to be sold in all my local supermarkets (now it's usually cleaned, and frozen), so I've prepped many a squid and never encountered one with the two quills Bkeats mentions. Just one. It pulls out easily, as do the head, tentacles, and any other goop, the amound of which varies from lots to none. You could also get a crunch if eating tentacles that weren't carefully cleaned. The mouth is at the base, where the tentacles meet, and it, too, is like a little bit of clear plastic. On big squid, the suckers on the tentacles are large enough that they can be on the crunchy side if you're eating them deep-fried.

          I must say, the first time I cleaned a squid it was a surprise to see what looked like clear plastic inside it. It looked SO manmade! I thought the critter must have swallowed a piece of some human garbage thrown overboard, or that it got in there somehow on the fisherman's boat.

          1. good grief. that thing is the first thing you remove in cleaning calamari!

            5 Replies
            1. re: alkapal

              Right. Leaving it in there is so amateurish.
              It's a collar stay the size of an emery board. You can't miss it.

              1. re: Cheese Boy

                yup, that is some sloppy prep to miss the cuttlebone. I suppose in a rush it's plausible to miss one, but still... hard to remove the guts and ink sac without removing that first.

                1. re: hill food

                  As I mentioned upthread, from the size and shape the OP described, it *could* have been the "beak". That would be easier to miss in cleaning the squid.

                2. re: Cheese Boy

                  But we are all humans and even the most accomplished chefs make mistakes.

                3. re: alkapal

                  If you're cleaning a lot of squid, it isn't that hard to miss a piece of a quill. They can break pretty easily in packaging and transport. So you think you pull the whole thing out but you've actually left a piece of the tip in there.

                  I've actually done this at home before too and didn't notice the piece until I went to slice into rings . . .