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What Are Calamari Steaks?

The squid used for calamari steaks can be either fresh or frozen.
A meat mallet, which can be used to tenderize calamari steaks.
Fresh squid used for calamari.
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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2014
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Calamari steaks are large, flat pieces of squid meat. These pieces of meat often come from large squids, particularly Humboldt squids, and they may be either fresh or frozen. Since squid is a tough and rubbery meat, calamari steaks should be tenderized before cooking. They can be cooked quickly, on a stove, or slowly, in the oven.

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.

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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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