Cthulhu Chow: Squid and Sustainability
If the hybridized monstrosity from Lovecraft’s realm could actually perish, know that consuming him (at least his head portion) would little negative impact on our desecrated oceans. Of course, the cult followers would come at you with their chantings, and probably try to slaughter you for the sacrifice, but…maybe after frying the Lord of R’lyeh to crispy perfection, they just might change their tune.
Giggles aside, not many people know that squids have unique lifestyle properties that make fishing for them pretty much ecologically neutral. In the coming years, we might just see a ravenous clamor for calamari as the go-to seafood source.
In the United States region (and certain international waters as well), the most common type of squid is the Market variety, also known as the Opalescent squid, the Monterey Squid, or the San Pedro squid.Another popular variety found is the Longfin squid, which features a less-translucent and more red-ocher color, along with longer tendrils.
These creatures breed year round since they tend to have a short life span of roughly a six months to a year, and mate right before they perish. Even though they’re like ocean rabbits who sustain their own population whether you fish them or not, regulations have been implemented to make sure fisheries don’t over-harvest during one particular season.
The actual squid population is fairly equipped to handle the pressures of hyper fishing, however the amount of available squid can fluctuate depending on the season and environmental conditions.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), warm summer waters would incubate and expedite the growth of Longfin squid faster than those hatched in the winter time.
If climate change is set to heat the planet, chances are the waters will warm up as well, meaning even more squid will make themselves available year-round.
Along with abundance, squid fishing tends to utilize safer methods of capture, which results in less by-catch. For Market squid especially, fisheries use purse seines (nets) that don’t scrape the ocean floor, minimizing the by-capture of fish that lurk in deeper waters. You won’t find large bodies of squid living around fragile areas such as coral reefs either, making them less prone to be damaged by trawlers.
Fisheries tend to target mature squid since they will most likely die soon anyway, and their spotlight-at-night fishing method targets and lures the squid exclusively. The process is intuitive and paired with regulation could well secure commercial fishing well past the year 2050.
So here’s the part where you’re either on board to take up squid or still a bit on the fence. If you’ve never had squid before, there are plenty of ways to consume the cephalopods. You can consume the entire squid except for its beak and the vestigial shell, and squid can be purchased whole, sliced in steaks or chopped up and ready to batter.
Squid is an excellent protein source with a lower mercury content level than the average ocean fish, making it a healthy choice (granted you saute or grill it most of the time).
You can also consume the squid ink, which is an epicurean delight, mainly because it is one of the few natural edible pigments in the world that is a true black.
Most commonly seen are squid ink pastas, which pair well with Alfredo and similar seafood pasta dishes. However, the possibilities are endless; recently, Burger King released their Kuro burgers in Japan donning black sesame seed buns and black cheese. Chances are, they were dyed mostly with squid ink.
Since Halloween’s around the corner, you might actually want to try making these Bat Wings for guests. They’re aesthetically appealing, and can potentially be a hit when you next entertain.
There was a point in history around the 1970’s where squid fishing was being promoted as a viable protein source for Americans, and there will most certainly be more vocal campaigning about the mighty mollusks in the coming years. So look to squid for your next seafood dish, or any dish for that matter, and i’m sure all the water deities–and your stomach–will be pleased.