Texas shrimp boats are starting to haul in the year's first finger squid, an occasion that will go unnoticed by most eaters. But seafood dealers say the scrawny cephalopod's too tasty to ignore.
"For normal, boring calamari, it's the best squid ever," says Lousiana Food's P.J. Stoops, who's been touting the squid's arrival on his Twitter feed. "Because the tentacles are so small, and the tubes are so thin, they fry up so quickly. It's a beautiful taste."
Finger squid, officially known as Atlantic brief squid, are typically sold for bait when fishermen bother to bring them off their boats. "They're never, never, never marketed," Stoops confirms. But Louisiana Foods, which handles seafood distribution for restaurants across Dallas, is pitching the 4-inch squid as a delicacy "fresh from little boats that never leave Texas waters."
Finger squid sell for about $4 a pound, and are so small they don't require cleaning before being tossed in a stew.
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"Their guts taste nice," Stoops says.
Stoops says finger squid remain a rarity on restaurant menus. He's seen them served around Houston at Vietnamese restaurants owned by fishermen's relatives.
"They require a little more love than regular squid," concedes Stoops, who remains an ardent fan. "But I've eaten my weight in those things."