This week I prowled the shelves of my favorite Italian market for something to eat for your amusement. As you have seen I am pretty adventurous eater, and since my roots are Italian, there aren’t a whole lot of things that I have not tried. Squid ink is one of the few. I once had some squid ink pasta in my pantry but I waited so long to try it that I wound up throwing it away. Enter canned squid in ink sauce.
I have a pretty good relationship with canned seafood but squid is so difficult to get right I could not imagine how it would work in this form. Squid ink itself is often reported to have a strong iodine flavor, having never consumed iodine straight I don’t have a good feel for it’s flavor, but I do know what iodized salt tastes like and I can work with a salty/briny metallic flavor.
Opening the can was a treat. The smell was pretty typical of canned seafood, slightly fishy but not overpowering. Visually this stuff looks nasty.
The squid itself had a strange grey color to it, making it look like zombie flesh. Matter of fact if I ever needed to mock up a picture of putrefied zombie flesh for a movie, a bucket of this stuff would serve nicely. Simply toss a bucket of this canned squid on the ground and blammo, instant zombie guts. The swirling orangish-black oily mess surrounding the grey and white bits of meat was unappetizing to say the least.
Extracting a hunk of squid did not make it look any better. The mottled rotten flesh look is not what I tend to go after when I sample food. It also had a very firm texture. When I picked it up on a fork it barely moved it all. The fork pierced right through without a ton of resistance but didn’t flex at all when I picked it up. Not a good trait for squid.
The oily sauce looks pretty strange as well. About what you would expect with beads of squid ink encapsulated in a tomato tinted soybean oil. Of course expecting it doesn’t make it appetizing.
Tasting time had arrived, I grabbed a hunk and went for it. The texture was very odd for squid, very typical for canned seafood. It was actually pretty tender but had that kind of mealy canned seafood texture like you get in tuna or smoked oysters. The flavor was pretty good. Not over powering at all, a pretty pleasant seafood taste with a hint of brininess and a touch of tomato. I went back for another bite pretty much right away. It is nothing amazing right out of the can and I wouldn’t serve it on an antipasto tray, but it could have it’s uses. Open a can and toss it with some hot pasta and some grated cheese and you could have a nice plate of food without a whole lot of effort. Clearly it would be better with fresh squid, but a tomato, olive oil and squid ink sauce would work really well.
All in all I got off pretty easy this week, while it looked disgusting the taste was fine and the remainder of the can will hit my plate some time this week. Give it a try if you see it on a shelf near you.
As always I am looking for suggestions for future articles, if you have an item you have always wanted to try but have been too afraid to do it, I will try it for you.