My brother-in-law and his buddy caught a big squid on a fishing trip awhile ago. They fired up a camp fire and proceeded to cook the squid. Once it was done, the took a bite and to their surprise it tasted horrible. They said it had a flavor like urine(I'm not sure why they would know what urine tastes like but since your sense of taste is connected to your sense of smell, when they tasted it it probably invoked memories of the scent of urine).

My question is, what is inside the squid that is causing this 'flavor' when cooked and how do you prepare squid to get rid of this flavor?


The squid was Humboldt Squid (aka jumbo squid) ~5 ft long. They were caught live and cleaned, I.e. guts removed. My brother-in-law confirmed the taste as "tasted like piss". :)

  • 1
    Can you please ask them if they cleaned it and which parts of the squid did they removed? Because I never had a squid that tasted like urine, it had to be something with the cleaning process IMO.
    – ccalboni
    Jan 24, 2012 at 15:30
  • FWIW kidneys are claimed to have a faint taste of urine. Jan 25, 2012 at 11:23
  • Regarding the "taste of urine", in a high school biology class our teacher covered the topic because there is a specific chemical in urine that is responsible for the foul taste that most but not all of us will have the gene that makes it taste that way. There is a small subset of people to where that chemical has no taste at all. So it would be that chemical that would be responsible for the taste and wouldn't have to actually be urine to cause it.
    – ManiacZX
    Jan 25, 2012 at 11:45
  • 2
    @ManiacZX: it's mostly ammonia derivatives.
    – nico
    Jan 26, 2012 at 7:36
  • Where's the mandatory Bear Grylls joke?
    – Midhat
    Jan 26, 2012 at 10:42

3 Answers 3


According to this site and confirmed by several others I found on the internet, the Humboldt Squid produces ammonia chloride as a defense mechanism, or as a side effect of asphixiation, or maybe both.

I couldn't find terribly reliable advice on how to avoid the contamination, but two points were repeatedly suggested on various bulletin boards:

  1. When you catch the humboldt squid, cut its head off, clean and ice it immediately (on the boat).
  2. when cleaning it, be careful not to puncture the swim bladder.

The other suggestion repeatedly offered was to catch some other kind of squid.

Hope that helps. For more 3rd-hand advice, search the internet for "squid ammonia flavor" and you'll see lots of bulletin boards and similar sources.


I've cleaned many a squid in my day and eaten a few less than I've cleaned. In all my time of cleaning, cooking and eating squid, I've never come across any that smelled or tasted like urine.

Now the typical size of the squid I've had experience with have been about 8 inches in body length. I haven't worked with any that are much larger than that so perhaps that might be a factor in the strange taste.

When squid gets old in the fridge it does give off a smell but urine isn't what it reminds me of.

I guess my next question is how did they clean it? Did they clean the gutts out completely? If they had left any of the gutts inside then that could give off a nasty smell and taste, though I've never cooked up a squid with it's gutts still inside so I'm just speculating. Crab when not cleaned propperly, will give off a strong odour so I'm starting to think it might have come down to preparation.

  • 1
    I think a very relevant question here is: was the squid alive when caught?
    – Eric Hu
    Jan 24, 2012 at 10:50
  • @EricHu, yes the squid was alive when they caught it.
    – milesmeow
    Jan 26, 2012 at 2:32

You should soak it in milk for 4 hours +

Wife a knife scrap off the top layer skin of the squid, like a carrot

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