The other day we received two small bags of squid, so fresh that their skin was still pulsating with different colors. This may not sound special, considering Monterey is known for its commercial squid fishery, but in fact it is quite a find. Blocks of perfectly cleaned, quickly frozen, locally caught squid can be found at many local stores and on the menus of numerous restaurants. It is not surprising that people prefer the convenience of pre-cleaned squid, especially when few of them take the time to read the fine print on the packaging. While this packaged squid may be caught in California, it is often processed in China and then distributed back to the US and other international markets. Few fisherman will bother selling a couple of pounds of fresh squid to a local chef or market. They prefer to unload their entire catch to a single exporter.
When I have squid this good, I want to showcase its mild flavor and inherent sweetness. After carefully cleaning the squid, I score the tubes and dip them quickly into an aromatic poaching liquid until they are barely cooked and still tender. Cous cous cooked with fresh squid ink and meyer lemon puree finish the plate.