Most Squid sold in North America is caught in the Atlantic. Though Squid can grow up to 6 feet (2 metres) long, if you buy one whole you are more likely to encounter one that is between 4 to 12 inches (10 to 30 cm) long.
Squid have 8 arms and two tentacles. The tentacles are longer than the arms and have only a sucker at the end of each, while the arms have two rows of suckers all along their length. They differ from Octopus, which have only the 8 arms and no tentacles.
Squid has a mild flavour, letting it take on the tastes of what you cook it with.
When buying fresh Squid, look for opaque white flesh and no smell. You can buy it already cleaned and chopped, or whole. Squid purchased frozen is still quite good, and sometimes may be the better part of valour if your grocery store happens to be quite far from the ocean on most days.
To clean a whole Squid, pull off its thin, grey skin (this will pull off easily). Then, cut out the beak (in the centre of the arms) and discard. Pull the arms off the body. Cut open the body. Put your hand inside the body, and pull out all the insides, and discard them. Turn it inside out to wash it. Then chop up or slice as needed.
You need either to cook Squid quickly at a high temperature, or for a long time at a low temperature. If you are cooking at a high temperature, it will turn white within 3 minutes. When it does, get it away from the heat right away, or you will have rubber. If you are cooking at a low temperature, you’ll want to simmer for at least 20 minutes. During this slower method of cooking the Squid will actually pass through the rubbery stage, but then go tender again. Squid cooked at a low temperature will turn a golden colour.
Literature & Lore
Instead of a spine, Squid has a transparent “pen” in its body that is considered its shell, which actually makes it part of the shellfish family.