3 to 6 cm long, baby squid are oval, slightly flattened, with 8 short legs and 2 long tentacles. The inner "shell" or cartilage is greatly reduced.
Firm, pearly-colored body.
They are small, so the whole squid can be eaten. Simply clean them.
Baby squid can be used like calamari and octopus: grilled, marinated, fried, sautéed or used in fritters or salads.
Pedro Arregui prepares his squid live, seared on the grill and decorated with a ribbon of their ink, tempered by an onion reduction: they are crisp and their flavor balances the sweetness of the onion (particularly Spanish onion) and the slight bitterness of the ink.
In the Basque country they are called "chipirons"
The little squid return to the Atlantic coast to reproduce. They are highly prized in the local cooking. They are prepared Madrilena-style (with onions, tomatoes, peppers, olive oil and garlic) or in a sauce. Their size allows them to be stuffed with Bayonne ham or other fillings.
All cephalopods have an ink sac that allows them to flee while they blind their predators; in cooking, the ink adds a subtle flavor to sauces or arroz negro (the black rice found throughout Spain), dark as a gypsy's eye.
Preparing baby squid (chipirons) with Jean-Marie Gautier
- Pull lightly to separate the head from the body. Using scissors, cut off the tentacles at eye level and reserve them.
- Discard the entrails, reserving the ink sac.
- Gently remove the cartilage from inside the squid. Rinse the tentacles and bodies in fresh water.
- Slice the bodies into strips. Keep the tentacles whole. Use according to the recipe desired.
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