Trying out a new food for the first time can be a bit scary.
Squid is one of those foods that people are often nervous to try out, just because of what a squid actually looks like!
Squid, or known by its culinary name calamari, can be prepared in a variety of ways, and depending on what ingredients it is paired with, can have a few varied flavors as well.
What does squid taste like? Squid has a mild taste. It has sweet notes, but is quite meaty. The meatiness of squid is comparable to that of lobster or shrimp. If cooked properly, squid should be slightly firm but still tender enough to enjoy. Squid should also not have a very strong fishy taste.
If you hate “fishy” flavors and smells, you might like squid a lot more than you think! There’s a reason squid is popular in many cultures. And hey, if you’ve ever tried calamari and liked it, you’ve been a squid fan already!
There are a variety of ways to cook squid and so many different ingredients that pair well with squid too.
However, understanding what squid tastes like does help you decide whether or not you would want to try it, as well as the best ingredients to pair it with, and how to prepare it.
So let’s talk about squid, its flavor, and how to enjoy it!
What Does Squid Taste Like?
When trying something new, the most important thing you would want to know is what it actually tastes like.
What squid or calamari tastes like is quite difficult to explain, because it heavily depends on how it is prepared and the ingredients it is served with.
On its own, grilled or fried without much added, squid has a slight seafood taste, but it is not overly fishy. It is quite meaty, similar to a lobster or scallop, and it has a slight sweetness to it too.
Generally, squid has a rubbery texture, but it can be tender too. The rubbery texture is only made unpleasant if the squid is overcooked.
Squid is really good at absorbing the flavors it is cooked with, so the overall taste is definitely influenced by this. However, the meaty, slightly rubbery, slightly sweet calamari can be tasted in a dish too!
Does Squid Have A Fishy Taste?
Any seafood comes with having some sort of fishy taste. However, some seafood ingredients have a stronger fishy taste than others. For example, sardines and anchovies have strong fishy tastes, whereas a fish such as tilapia does not.
Squid is somewhere in between, but more on the milder side. It does have some form of a fishy taste as it is from the sea, but this is not overwhelming and should not be strong enough to put you off of squid.
If the squid you are wanting to prepare or eat has quite a fishy taste or smell, then there could be a chance that it is off, and it is best to look for other signs that it might have spoiled.
You might get a slight fishy smell off of squid, but it should not be strong at all.
Does Squid Taste Like Shrimp?
One comparison that is often made is that squid tastes like shrimp, but this isn’t completely correct. They both share that seafood taste and are both slightly sweet with a meaty taste, but there are differences between them too.
Shrimp are slightly meatier than squid and are less chewy if cooked properly. They are not initially rubbery and can be soft and tender when cooked. When eaten raw, shrimp can have a beautiful crunch to them.
Squid does not have this crunch when raw, and turns more rubbery when cooked, even though it can still be quite tender. Squid also has a milder sweetness to it, and a milder flavor overall.
Why Is The Texture Of Squid So Chewy?
If you have ever had overcooked squid before, you would know how unpleasantly rubbery it can be. Once overcooked, squid is unenjoyable to eat, and it could feel as though you are chewing on a car tire!
Squid can be tender and still chewy if it is cooked correctly, whether grilling, deep-frying, or broiling it. You just have to keep a check on how long it has been cooked.
Squid has a high level of collagen, fibers, and muscles in its tentacles, which is why it is so chewy and rubbery at first.
You can cook it for the right amount of time for it to still be tender, or you could use acidic liquids such as lemon juice to break these fibers down.
Even though it is known for its chewiness and being slightly rubbery, don’t let that put you off, as you can get some beautifully tender squid if it is cooked well!
Is Calamari Squid?
Calamari and squid are the same thing.
The word calamari comes from the Italian word for squid and it is the term most commonly used in restaurants and stores.
Calamari, and therefore squid, can be prepared in a variety of ways, whether fried, grilled, breaded, or stuffed. It can be served whole or in rings. You’ll find it either labeled as squid or calamari on the menu, but you can rest assured it is the same thing.
A squid might appear similar to an octopus, but they are generally smaller in size, and instead of having eight tentacles, they have ten.
It is important to understand that squid and calamari are the same thing, but squid and octopus are not, as their taste and texture are quite different. (Plus, they’re different animals!)
How To Prepare Squid And What It Tastes Like
The way you prepare squid does determine what it tastes like once it has been cooked.
To help you better understand what squid tastes like, here are the most common ways of cooking it, and what the resultant flavors are:
Breaded and fried calamari is a very popular dish, and for good reason. We all know that crumbed and deep-fried food tastes good, and calamari is one of the foods that just tastes really great when crumbed and deep-fried.
As squid doesn’t have much of a fishy taste, but still tastes like seafood, it goes well with the deep-fried crumb. The meatiness of the squid also makes for a delicious center when biting into a breaded crumb.
You can alter the taste of the crumb by adding certain spices and seasonings, but overall the breaded calamari will have that deep-fried flavor, with the rubbery sweetness from the squid.
Grilling calamari is the best way to enjoy the real taste of it. You can add extra ingredients such as lemon, chili, or garlic to the calamari, and even marinade it beforehand, but you will still get the taste of the squid.
You need to be careful to not overcook calamari when grilling it, as this could lead to it becoming very rubbery and losing most of its taste.
In some areas, dried squid is a very popular snack. Dried squid has a stronger taste than cooked squid. It is both sweet and salty, quite fishy, and can have a spicy taste to it too.
The way that it is dried and prepared allows it to still be soft, but chewy on the inside. If you love beef jerky and seafood, then dried squid is worth a try!
What Is The Difference Between Squid, Octopus And Cuttlefish?
Squid, octopus, and cuttlefish are three types of seafood that are very easily confused with one another.
They might seem similar when alive, but they seem even more similar when cooked. Even though they share similarities, when it comes to taste and texture, they are very different.
As we have mentioned above, a squid has ten tentacles and is usually fairly small in size. Calamari is another word used to describe squid when it is prepared and cooked.
Squid is slightly tougher than octopus, but the meat is smoother, too. It is firm and tender at the same time when cooked properly and holds up well to different cooking methods.
The meat of squid soaks up flavors, sauces, and spices well. So it is able to be cooked by boiling, searing, grilling, braising, or deep-frying, and still taste great.
It has a mild, sweet flavor and is fairly meaty.
As the name gives away, an octopus has eight legs. They are usually larger than squid, which gives them longer and larger tentacles.
When cooked, octopus has a similar taste and texture to lobster. It is quite meaty and fairly chewy, and the flavor takes on a lot of what it was cooked with. Many have compared the taste of octopus with pork or chicken.
As an octopus tentacle is packed with collagen, fibers, and muscles, it is initially rubbery and chewy. But this can be cooked down somewhat.
The benefit for many when eating octopus is that it does have a fishy taste, but it is not too strong. It’s similar to squid, but stronger. It does have a rich flavor though, which is complemented by the ingredients it is served with.
Cuttlefish have a hard internal bone that can be identified quite easily. However, a cuttlefish can still appear similar to a small squid.
When cooked, a cuttlefish falls somewhere between a squid and an octopus when it comes to taste and texture. It is slightly chewy and rubbery. It is about halfway between a squid and an octopus in terms of how smooth the meat is.
Taste-wise, it has more of a fishy, seafood flavor than squid, but not as much as an octopus, which has a fairly rich flavor.
Unlike squid, cuttlefish can be cooked for longer. It can become more tender the longer it is cooked for, which is why it is a popular choice for paellas, risotto, and stews.
Tips For Cooking Squid
If you have decided that you want to try some squid out, then you need some tips on how to cook it perfectly!
Perfectly cooked squid really is delicious, but squid that isn’t prepared and cooked properly can be quite unpleasant.
Before you cook up any squid at home, here are some handy tips to keep in mind:
- Check to see that the squid has been cleaned before cooking it. If not, you will have to clean the squid yourself.
- Squid needs to be cooked quickly at high heat or for a long time on lower heat. Anything other than this will cause it to be too rubbery and chewy.
- Drizzle some olive oil over the squid to grill it at a high temperature.
- Papaya or kiwi juice can be used to tenderize squid if it has been cooked too long and has become chewy.
What Does Squid Go Well With?
Squid goes well with so many different seasonings and sauces. It really is up to you what you decide to enjoy it with!
Some of the most popular seasonings and spices used to flavor squid include lemon, herbs, garlic, and chili.
However, squid also goes great in a marinara sauce. It is often combined with different types of seafood, such as shrimp and clams, to make a marinara sauce or even a paella.
Squid is very versatile, and it can even be served with a creamy sauce too. Deep-fried, crumbed calamari can be eaten as is. Or it can be topped with some fresh lemon juice or dipped into a seafood tartar sauce.
How Do You Know If Squid Has Gone Bad?
If squid is not something you enjoy often, then you might not know when the fishy smell becomes too fishy, and what other signs to look for that show that squid might have spoiled.
First, you should smell the squid. It should have a slightly mild seafood smell. But if the fishy smell becomes quite noticeable and offensive, then that may be a sign that the squid has gone bad.
Next, look at the surface of the squid. It should be smooth and light in color. If it starts to turn a red or yellow color, and becomes wrinkled and dull, then it could be going off.
When buying squid fresh, take a look at the use-by date. Squid that has been frozen and thawed should be used within two days.
Review: Squid Flavor
Squid, also known as calamari, has a mild seafood taste, with some sweetness and meatiness to it. The texture is chewy and slightly rubbery. But if cooked correctly, squid can be beautifully tender.
How the squid is prepared plays quite an important factor in how it tastes, whether it is breaded and deep-fried, grilled with lemon and garlic, or stuffed with other ingredients.
You can alter the flavor of squid quite a bit, as it absorbs flavors, spices, and seasonings really well.
Squid does not have a strong fishy taste, and it is definitely worth a try if you haven’t had any before. Make sure to read through our tips on how to prepare calamari at home if that is what you are trying out.
What Is Squid Similar To?
Squid is most similar to octopus and cuttlefish, as they have a similar taste and similar texture.
There are some differences between the three, but they you can substitute them with each other in certain recipes if needed.
Can You Eat Baby Squid?
Yes, you can eat baby squid. They taste very similar to regular/adult squid. Baby squid has a sweet and mild flavor.
What Part Of The Squid Should You Not Eat?
You should not eat the beak and the pen of the squid. But if you are buying the squid prepared, then these should not be present.