Also known by its Italian name, calamari, the squid belongs to the same family as the octopus.
The squid is a schooling, pelagic (ocean-dwelling) animal that preys on small finfish and crustaceans. It has 10 arms and usually a long, cigar-shaped body with fins at the end. It has no backbone, but rather a quill like pen located beneath its mantle, or body.
The squid is ordinarily a milky, translucent colour, but when aroused, it turns rapidly to red, pink, brown, blue, and yellow, even several hours after capture. An ink-like fluid in a sack in the mantle is ejected at will. The siphon or funnel that ejects ink is also instrumental in enabling the squid to move so rapidly.
Th ere are many species of squid in all seas, ranging in length from 1 inch to more than 6 feet and 100 pounds in weight. The smallest is the California or Monterey squid (Loligo opalescens) in addition; the long finned squid is generally smaller and has a thinner mantle wall than the other species.
Squid is caught from spring through to autumn and in winter, the Illex illecebrosus or short-finned squid, is caught in the more northern parts of Spain.
The short-finned squid attains a larger size, has a thicker mantle wall, and usually sells for less than the long-finned squid. This squid was once harvested almost exclusively for use as bait, but is now marketed as a food item and has found consumer acceptance equal to the long-finned squid.
The key to cooking squid (any variety) is time and temperature. There are two basic techniques; short time at high temperature, and long time at low temperature. Note that squid will always have a texture but what you want to avoid are rubber bands!
Stir frying, pan sautéing, poaching, barbecuing, and deep frying are all examples of cooking at a high temperature for a short time. Squid cooked this way will turn snowy white in three minutes. If you cook it for longer than three minutes at a high temperature, a rubbery texture will result.
Simmering in a sauce or soup is an example of cooking at a low temperature for a long time. If you are preparing a squid marinara, the squid is simmered at a low temperature for longer than 20 minutes. This allows the squid to pass through the rubber-band stage and become tenderer. Squid cooked this way will turn golden. Overall, squid has a bland flavour and takes on the flavour of the ingredients with which it is cooked.