image description August 28, 2013

Bizarre Bites: Squid Ink

Bizarre Bites: Squid Ink

Good Inking

Ever been so scared you’ve peed in your pants? Me neither, but I’ve been close. (Did you see the Bizarre Foods episode where I almost jumped off the nuclear reactor in South Africa…but chickened out? Yikes.) Squid, like most other cephalopods, have a similar problem. These animals have a mechanism that releases a blue-black ink when startled or threatened. The ink blocks sight and scent of the squid from its prey, allowing for the squid’s swift getaway. The ink, a combination of melanin and mucus, is released through the ink sacs located between the squid’s gills. What’s even odder, is the fact that people eat the stuff. As an ingredient, the ink makes for fantastic flavoring and dramatic food coloring. Squid ink is most popular whenever it’s freshest…like in the Mediterranean countries. It’s used in stews, soups, pastas, and often served with the squid itself. Iron Chef America fans will recall it was even used in ice cream.

Delicately briny and with just the faintest hint of lemons, the ink makes its best star turn in a quick braise over polenta or in a risotto. I can’t get enough of the stuff.

How to harvest squid ink

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How to Harvest Squid Ink

GET A SQUID. Go fishing or buy one at a store. (Make sure the squid has not been “pre-cleaned”; if it has, the ink is gone).

REMOVE THE INK SAC by detaching the squid head from its body. The internal organs will come along with the head. See the silvery sac in the middle of the organs? That’s the ink sac. Cut out the ink sac from either side.

COLLECT THE INK. Get a bowl (that you don’t mind if it turns black), fill with 1 tablespoon of water, put the sac in the bowl, and puncture it with a knife.

ENJOY. Use it as a delicious ingredient!

Eyes

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Eyes

There are 300 different species of squid, all with eight arms and two long tentacles. They all also have a mantle, which is flesh that covers their main body. However, you’ll see huge differences in their size. The smallest squids can be less than 1-inch long. The largest, or the colossal squid, can be up to 45-feet long.

Compared to their body sizes, squids have huge eyes and excellent eyesight. The colossal squid has the largest known eyes on the planet- up to 10 inches in diameter, about the size of a basketball. The eyes take in 144 times as much light as the human eye. This is most likely because it is so dark where they live in the depths of the ocean.

Your eyes are about the size of a ping-pong ball. They are protected by your eyelids, which blink to keep them clean and moist. Sometimes your eyelids are not enough. It’s a good idea to wear googles to protect your eyes when you are playing sports like hockey or if you’re skiing. Sunglasses not only look cool, but they protect your eyes from sun damage. Make sure to grab your shades if you’re going outside!

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