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Halloween is just around the corner and I thought it was a good time to explain the difference between the Calamari Squid, Cuttlefish and Octopus, often used for creepy Halloween recipes.
There is a lot of confusion on what is a squid, what part of a squid is calamari, what is squid ink pasta and where the black ink comes from. So I decided to dedicate this post to clarify some of these mysteries.
What is the difference between Squid and Calamari?
So just to be clear, there is no difference between Squid and Calamari. They are the same thing: Calamari is Squid in Spanish and Italian. The word Calamari has been adopted by various restaurants and you often find calamari instead of squid on the menu.
Last year for Halloween I published the recipe Pasta with Black Ink Squid, as typically called in English (from Google Adword statistic)
However, this past summer, while translating seafood names in English Italian and French, I realized that the name was not in fact correct.
So I took a closer look at the 3 cephalopods used in cooking and differentiated them from each other.
Cephalopods are mollusc with tentacles attached to the head. The name comes from Greek: kephale “head” + pod- , stem of pous “foot”.
Octopus (Eng.), Poulpe (Fr.), Polpo (It.)
The easiest to recognize from the others as it has long tentacles and round and short head.
You can find it already cleaned at the fishmonger and the easiest way of cooking it is to boil it with carrot, celery and onion for 30 minutes. Sometimes the skin can become very mushy once cooked, so I tend to remove it. It is up to you.
My favourite way of serving the octopus is Warm Octopus “Legs” and Potato Salad. In this recipe, you will find a fun fact about cooking the octopus in Italy. We put a cork in the water. Have a look at the recipe and you will find out why.
Squid (Eng.), Calmar (Fr.), Calamaro (It.)
They have long bodies, short tentacles and reddish bright colour. You can also buy them frozen often cut in rings. A very common dish in the Mediterranean countries is fried squid, which you will often find on the restaurant menu as fried calamari. It is exactly the same thing.
You can also find them mixed with other fried fish in a dish called Frittura di Pesce served with lemon or Tartar Sauce.
There are many other cooking methods, I personally like squids grilled and served over a fresh salad, they are healthier than the fried version and very easy to make.
But if you have time to make something special, you should try: Stuffed Calamari flavoured with white wine. It is a typical dish cooked at Christmas Eve, when traditionally Italians will have 7 different types of fish.
It is best to have your fishmonger to clean the squid, and here is how it is done by an expert hand:
Can you see the Black Ink Squid?
No, you can’t!
Cuttlefish (Eng.), Seiche (Fr.), Seppie (It.)
Cuttlefish are white-ish, have a rounder head and a tick bone inside their body, which is commonly used as calcium-rich dietary supplements for caged canaries. They are very different from Squid, even if the meat has a similar taste and consistency. Once they are cleaned and cut, you can hardly distinguish them.
Here is a video on how to clean the cuttlefish,
…..and guess what? Here is the Black Ink bag!
This is what the ink sacs look like, and if you are using the fresh ink from a Cuttlefish, you need to be very careful about the risk of stains.
Cuttlefish are very different from Squid, but why it is called Squid Ink while it is actually from the cuttlefish, I don’t know !!
In Italian is called Nero di Seppia, in French Encre de seiche…
…in Spanish Tinta de Calamar, but Calmar (in French), Calamaro (in Italian) is Squid (in English) ?!?!
Can this be the reason why in English is called squid ink?
If someone can answer this mystery, please let me know in the comment box below.
In the meantime, you can try to make this recipe Black Ink Pasta
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