I am having a hard time with this seemly simple 'snack'.

The calamari and squid is usually given to me by my neighbor who is a seafood monger. It's frozen and a mix of baby octopus and squid rings, no label.

I've tried both boiling and frying them. I've also tried boiling followed by frying. The taste is always good, but the texture is not tender and kind of gummy.

It is possible that this type of squid is tougher (e.g. Moroccan octopus is more tender than Thai), and a reason why neighbor says: "arr, I can't cook these right... here... you try".

Is there a trick to getting them spot on?

7 Answers 7


Calamari or squid is of course famous for being difficult to cook, because it gets tough or rubbery.

As Harold McGee explains in On Food and Cooking, octopus and squid meat are very rich in collagen:

They are chewy when lightly cooked, tough when cooked to the denaturing temperatures of their collagen, around 120 - 130 F / 50 - 55 C, and become tender with long, slow cooking.

The trick then is to either:

  • Cook them minimally, so they do not begin to toughen. This Serious Eats recipe for fried calamari recommends no more than one minute.

    My own interpretation of this is that it will keep the temperature of the squid below the 120 F threshold, at the risk of being below the pathogen kill point, so it should be done only with squid from a trustworthy purveyor.

  • Cook them for a long time, slowly, as in a braise, so they move through the tough phase to tender again. This Food Network recipe for stuffed squid by Ann Burrell is an example. The total squid cooking time is 20 to 25 minutes.

  • 5
    That's it, either real short or real long. Modernist cuisine and Mario Batali are pointing at less than 4 minutes or longer than 1 hr. +1 for using Harold. He'd be definitive source for the structure part.
    – MandoMando
    Mar 15, 2013 at 20:51
  • Maybe the Sous-Vide method?
    – Skaperen
    Mar 23, 2013 at 4:47
  • How do we ensure it's safe to eat if we cook it for a short time? Is one minute enough to kill any parasites and bacteria?
    – Gherman
    Mar 2, 2020 at 21:45

Fried calamari gets tough when even slightly overcooked. The trick is to thaw and bring to room temperature before frying.

  • Yes, thawing them means less time in the pan. thanks.
    – MandoMando
    Mar 15, 2013 at 20:52

take frozen squid tube, put in just enough water to cover.On low heat bring to .boil and simmer for 10 to 14 mins. Dry squid and cut near through at 45 degs on one side, turn over and repeat ,Crush garlic in to pan with oil, salt and pepper squid and fry in hot oil for 1 to 1.5 mins. Yum.. very tender


Soak them in water and baking soda for an hour. Clean them in cold water then dry them. If you don't have baking soda then soak them for 4 hours in milk.


Fry for 40 seconds, then if it's not enough for you fry them again. Better to fried it too little than too much.


Soak them in water and baking powder for about an hour before you fry them, they turn just sooooooooo tender.

  • 5
    Are you sure it's supposed to be baking powder, not soda?
    – SourDoh
    Sep 25, 2013 at 23:16

Cut some paw paw up and cook it along with the squid for 1 hour.

This will make them tender when cooking.

  • Please elaborate more. This could benefit the OP. In general, one sentence answers don't fare well on these Exchanges (especially one where the grammar and spelling is off). Nov 21, 2017 at 14:22

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