Calamari is the Italian word for squid and it refers to those species of squid with long side fins; those with relatively shorter side fins are seppie (cuttlefish).
Calamari, cuttlefish and squid
This recipe is for seppie, but squid is much easier to buy in Australia although the two species are sometimes sold interchangeably and sold as calamari. They are found right around the Australian coast and are available year round.
Commercially they are wild-caught mainly by seafloor trawling and many end up as bycatch in nets. Squid jags are a favourite with recreational fishers. They generally are a fast growing species and for this reason are considered sustainable.
In Australia squid was once only used for bait and be very cheaply priced, but unfortunately, too many people have come to appreciate it and the price has gone up significantly.
Many of the rings and tubes sold are imported. There is also local product and this may not have been frozen, but the flesh can be tough – usually they are from much bigger squids than I would generally buy. Unfortunately the tentacles (very tasty) are generally removed for easier processing and packing in ice, ready for export.
I am very spoiled when I buy squid from my fish vendor at Happy Tuna in the Queen Victoria Market where I shop. It is so fresh that it could easily be eaten raw or needs very little cooking. My favourite vendors always select for me small and medium sized squid, which they know I prefer. The photo is from the fish market in Siracusa, Sicilia and it shows the common size for squid sold in Italy.
This recipe is a wet pasta dish – a common consistency for Sicilian soups which generally contain a large amount of pasta. What I like about this recipe (from Mazara del Vallo, on the west coast of Sicily) is the addition of carrot and potato – two very popular ingredients in Australia, but not so popular in pasta dishes in Sicily. The squid used are young, small cuttlefish or squid – the smaller ones are considered more tender.
In the original recipe the taglierini (fresh pasta cut into thin strips, tagghiarini is the Sicilian term). These are made without eggs, perhaps this was once due to poverty or scarcity, rather than choice, but the practice of making pasta without eggs In Sicily has remained. If buying commercially made pasta, use thin ribbon pasta. (When the pasta is coiled like in the photo, the shapes are sometimes called nidi – nests of pasta.)
squid or cuttlefish, 1.5kg
carrot, 1 diced (small)
potato, 1 diced (small)
onion, 1 chopped finely