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What Are Calamari Steaks?

By Christina Edwards
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Dive into the world of seafood delicacies with what are calamari steaks, a gourmet favorite derived from the ocean's depths. Sourced primarily from the robust Humboldt squid, these substantial cuts represent a versatile ingredient in many culinary traditions. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, the Humboldt squid is a sustainable choice, often found in the Eastern Pacific. 

Calamari steaks, which can be purchased fresh or frozen, require careful preparation due to their naturally firm texture. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that global cephalopod catch, including squid, has increased over the years, reflecting their popularity. 

To unlock their tender potential, a process of tenderization is recommended before they meet the heat. Whether seared swiftly on a sizzling skillet or braised gently in the oven, these steaks offer a canvas for a myriad of flavors, ensuring a delightful dining experience when prepared with skill.

The Humboldt squid is sometimes known as a jumbo squid or calamari grande. It is a large squid, and it can grow to be roughly 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length. They can often be found in deep, warm waters in the eastern parts of the Pacific Ocean, particularly the Humboldt Current. The best time to catch these types of squid is typically at night, when flashing lures are more visible.

After a Humboldt squid is caught, it must be cleaned. The body of the squid can then be sliced. Each of these slices is often cut into smaller pieces, resulting in calamari steaks. Squid meat should then be stored in salt or sea water or frozen until it is ready to use.

Frozen calamari steaks are sometimes available in large grocery stores. If they are not available locally, they can also be purchased online. Many times, frozen squid steaks are already tenderized, and they can be cooked as soon as they are thawed. Placing the steaks in the refrigerator is considered the best way to thaw this type of meat.

Fresh calamari steaks can often be found in fish markets near the animal's native habitat. Some of these steaks may already be tenderized before they are sold. Others may need tenderizing before being cooked.

Tenderizing these steaks is important, since they are a naturally tough eat. Pounding them lightly with a meat mallet is one of the best ways to tenderize these steaks. They can also be soaked in milk or buttermilk prior to cooking.

Calamari steaks can be fried quickly, on a stove or a grill. Many cooks will choose to carve a shallow X into the steaks, which will help prevent them from curling up when cooking. Bread crumbs or flour can also be used to cover the calamari prior to cooking. When using this method of cooking, it is important not to cook the meat too long, since it can become very rubbery. Each calamari steak should be cooked for about one minute on each side, or until the meat becomes opaque.

Cooking the steaks slowly will also result in tender meat. An oven or slow cooker can be used for this. Some chefs also recommend cooking calamari is tomato sauce, which will help break the meat down even further.

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Discussion Comments
By anon993901 — On Dec 28, 2015

In case anyone is wondering, another excellent preparation of the calamari steak is to cut it lengthwise into 1/2" strips then dip it briefly in a mixture of 75 percent AP flour and 25 percent cornstarch with a little paprika thrown in for fun and flavor then fry at 350-375 degrees until internal temperature reached 145 or so (5-6 Minutes tops) then dip in a nice spicy cajun remoulade. Yum!

By ZipLine — On Dec 11, 2014

It's quite difficult to cook calamari. It requires some experience to get it the perfect tenderness. In my experience, the cooking time either has to be very quick on high heat, or very long on low heat.

Calamari also tends to curl up when it's being cooked. This can be prevented by cutting slits onto the surface.

If anyone is planning on making this for guests, I highly recommend trying the recipe once beforehand to make sure that it comes out right.

By fify — On Dec 11, 2014

@fBoyle-- When it comes to food and seafood specifically, my rule is "don't mock it till you try it." Sometimes, a food may sound strange or may have ingredients you're not used to but can turn out, very, very good. If you had heard that fried calamari was squid first, you would have probably never tried it. And you would have missed out on a very delicious food.

So I suggest giving calamari steak a try. If you don't like it after you try it, no one is going to force you to eat it. But who knows, maybe you will like it. And just to let you know, calamari steak looks nothing like the squid pictures on this page. Of course, it also depends on how it's prepared. But I have a feeling that you would like the breaded version cooked on the stone with a nice sauce on top.

By fBoyle — On Dec 10, 2014

I've had fried calamari before and I liked it. In fact, the very first time I had calamari, I didn't even know it was seafood because it doesn't taste like seafood when it's fried. But a calamari steak, I don't think I could get myself to have that. My squid basically has to be in a form where I can't tell that it's squid.

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