I've tried cooking large calamari tentacles (about 2in at their thickest) with little success. The first time I tried the classic fast-grilling method, but, obviously, they came out raw in the middle. Then I cut 0.4in rondelles out of it and tried it again, ending up with rubber food.

My third attempt was to try the octopus cooking method, so I simmered the cuts for about half an hour and then grilled them for a few minutes. This had the best result as far as tenderness goes, but the taste was nowhere near what I wanted.

Can these be used to get the same taste as in regular-sized, fast-grilled calamari or should I try a different recipe?

  • possible duplicate of how do you cook calamari/squid and avoid making it tough
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Jan 27, 2014 at 10:15
  • 3
    I think this is not a duplicate. At least, the question body shows a much more specific problem: the OP obviously already has a method for small tentacles and wants similar results with the large ones, as shown by the part about the slow boil not producing the expected result. So I edited the title to be more in line with the body and less similar to the old question.
    – rumtscho
    Jan 27, 2014 at 10:51

1 Answer 1


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.

Trying to make a large squid taste the same a small squid would with fast cooking methods like frying is going to be very challenging.

The key obstacle to overcome is that the larger squid are going to have more connective tissue (collagen) in the meat, and will be fundamentally a tougher piece of seafood. They simply are more suitable for slow cooking methods, which can be delicious in their own right, but are a different outcome.

If you do wish to experiment, your best bet would be to slice the tentacles very thinly, maybe only 1/8 of an inch, and flash fry them quickly. You may have better success with the bodies, which are not as tough as the tentacles.

  • 1
    This is my answer from the proposed duplicate question, which applies 100% to this question as well, the only difference being the size of the squid, which makes braising techniques more likely to be the right ones. The other question mentioned baby squid in the body, but not the question heading, and that really isn't germane to the nature of the answer.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Jan 27, 2014 at 13:33

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