Ralph Anderson

Feel good about eating calamari.

When buying fresh squid, choose small and whole seafood with anocean-fresh fragrance. Allow 1/2 pound per person. It should berefrigerated, airtight, no more than a day.

Frozen squid can be purchased clean in a variety of forms:whole, tubes and tentacles, tubes only, and sliced tubes. Frozensquid thaws quickly under cold running water.

Squid meat consists mostly of fine muscle fibers and no fat,accounting for its leanness (and toughness). It's low in caloriesand rich in protein and phosphorus, but it also has the distinctionof being the seafood with the most cholesterol.

Most often your fish market has cleaned its squid, but in casenot, here's what to do: Make an incision lengthwise down the mantle(tubelike body), and remove the innards and transparent "pen"(cartilage) by gently scraping them out with a knife. Cut away thetentacles and pop out the small round bony piece called the "beak."Pull away and discard the fine, purplish skin from the mantle; thenrinse. Discard everything but the mantle and tentacles.

Small squid are more tender than large ones. To tenderize largerones, pound cleaned flesh with a mallet until it's limp andsatiny.

Cookbook author Mark Bittman's "2 or 20 minute" rule is a goodone: Cook squid quickly in a very hot pan for no more than 2minutes; if it cooks any longer and toughens, continue cooking itat more moderate heat for about 20 minutes, by which time it shouldbe tender again.

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