My whole life I've been buying small squid (maybe 4-6" long bodies without the head and tentacles), which are very mildly chewy and tender. All it takes is sautee them in a little OO and they are good to eat, IOW, no additional tenderizing is needed.

Yesterday I got some large squid, about 1 lb each before cleaning, probably 10"+ long without the head, probably 5-6 times as much meat as the little ones I usually get. I remember trying to cook that before and they came out very tough and with a bit of unpleasant odor.

Is there a way to marinate and tenderize large squid and to somehow neutralize the odor?

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    Braising. It's a very common way to prepare large cephalopods. Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 16:19
  • How do you want to cook them, do you have a recipe or technique in mind? You could try cross-hatching lightly with a sharp knife. The odor would cause concern for me, was that before or after cooking?
    – moscafj
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 17:07
  • just sauteed would be fine, perhaps after marinading them in something zesty or perhaps sweetish/teriyaki-ish. long cooked stew preference #2. deep frying would be the third preference. etc
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 17:13
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    I was watching a cooking show a while back, and the chef that was cooking octopus mentioned that the secret to getting it tender was to get the ones that had been previously frozen. I suspect that would be true for squid, too.
    – Joe
    Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 17:08

7 Answers 7


Papaya is a known tenderizer for octopus, squid, and other meats. Another option is papaya enzyme tablets found in the supplement section of drugstore. Either can be added to the recipe while marinating or cooking. The tablets have the advantage of imparting no flavor. I can't judge the amount without a recipe, but pretty hard to go wrong. Also squid and octopus must be flash grilled or cooked for a long time. Anything in between results in tough meat.

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    green papaya or regular ?
    – amphibient
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 15:35

In Africa they tenderize them by beating them with rocks, like you would do with a steak tenderizer. A bit of manual labour, but well worth the effort. The by far most tender calamare I've ever had was in Namibia, and that was beaten before cooking.


I agree that a long braise would be one way to go but I also use large squid to make one of my favorite chowders, faux conch chowder. I use my meat grinder attachment for my KA stand mixer to grind the squid, tentacles and bodies, and then combine them with chopped clams in a traditional Caribbean conch chowder broth. I find that the ground squid mimics the texture and nice chewiness you would get with ground conch. My family and friends love it and if I didn't tell them, they would have no idea that it wasn't real conch in the chowder.

  • I would prefer not grinding my squid
    – amphibient
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 16:44
  • Completely fair. I was just trying to offer an alternative method that tenderizes and offers a non-traditional way to use squid that has worked well for me in the past :)
    – Beach
    Commented Mar 16, 2015 at 17:16

marinating over-nite helps to keep it tender. Ive also seen people dipping squids in hot water for couple seconds then taking it out and repeating it for few times to keep it tender before actually cooking it.


Kiwi fruit. Works so well don't do it too long!

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    If you could add some instruction on how to do it, this would be an interesting post - as it is, it's just a keyword without context, I'm afraid. That said - welcome to Seasoned Advice!
    – Stephie
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 10:47

You might try using some Korean pomgranite wine as a 6 hr or more marinade or try a dry rub with baking soda and wash it off in 2-4 hrs.


"I use buttermilk (enzymes in the milk) to tenderize: squid, boneless skinless chicken breast, and boneless pork loin chops. I soak for a couple hours or so and it gets rid of all the "fishy" flavor. The lactic acid in buttermilk dissolves proteins in the same way monosodium glutimate (MSG) does. It makes the meat break down without the rotting process. I soak my steaks and roasts for 8-12 hours and my gamey tasting meats like some fish and venison for up to 24 hours. Just rinse off and cook.

  • 1
    This doesn't really address the concerns from the question. The differences between squid, and the meats you described is quite a bit and thus making your comment irrelevant. Please feel free to have a gander at the Tour and Help pages. Thanks and welcome to Seasoned Advice.
    – J Crosby
    Commented Aug 8, 2019 at 14:02

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