Use of squid in food cuisines, especially in Asian countries is not a new thing.
However, that is apparently not the only way people consume squid. Over the years, a certain discharge of squid has also found a special place in many traditional food cultures, specifically in Japan and Mediterranean cuisines.
As absurd and bizarre as it may sound, squid ink is used widely in many dishes primarily for two reasons – giving the dish a strong savory taste and for obtaining a distinct black-blue color.
However, for someone who is new to such culinary tradition, the obvious question to ask is – what does squid ink taste like? And is it safe?
What is Squid Ink?
Squid ink aka Cephalopod ink is a dark-colored by-product that is released by the majority of Cephalopod species such as squid, octopus, and cuttlefish. The secretion of the ink is a part of their defense mechanism to obstruct the view of the predators behind them.
The dark color of the ink is primarily due to the presence of melanin – the same pigment responsible for determining our skin color. Squid ink in particular posses some crucial compounds such as L-DOPA, dopamine, and polysaccharides. It also has a small percentage of amino acids, such as glutamic acid, lysine, and taurine.
Although Squid ink has been used for various applications, they find a special place in the culinary business.
What Does Squid Ink Taste Like?
If you’re someone who has never tried squid ink before, just the idea of consuming something that is excreted by our aquatic contemporary may sound off-putting. However, the genuine taste of squid ink may surprise you.
People naturally think it tastes bitter due to its deep-dark appearance. However, the taste of squid ink can be best described as "brine." It retains a strong salty and earthy-fish flavor staying true to its origin. However, the overall taste of the ink is “neutral.” As long as you don’t over commit to using it in excess, the taste isn’t too overpowering.
The right amount of squid ink promotes a slight hint of ocean and saline taste. The level of salinity resembles that of an oyster.
Nutritional Benefits of Squid Ink
Squid ink is not just used for manipulating the appearance of dishes. Its application is rooted down deep in its health beneficial aspects. Squid ink also contains some crucial nutritional contents such as high iron concentration, Glutamic acid, and antioxidants compounds.
All these compounds play a key role in providing benefits such as increasing the red blood cell count, decreasing the risk of heart disease, and boosting your immune system as well.
What Are The Uses of Squid Ink?
Throughout history, squid ink has found a vast number of uses. However, its latest application comes in the form of culinary cuisines around the world. So, how can you use squid ink in your cooking procedure?
The use of squid ink in cooking is surprisingly easy and straightforward. Due to its distinct coloring properties and mild flavor, it can be used in a wide variety of cooking methods. Most cultures use squid ink just for adding colors to a plain dish, while some use it for its savory flavor.
Pasta and rice are two of the most common dishes where people use squid ink, both for promoting a unique coloring and also for giving the dish a slight hint of fishy and saline flavor.
It is always crucial to remember that squid ink is to be used only in small quantities. A few drops of squid ink is more than sufficient to manipulate the dish color and also for promoting a slightly unique taste. However, a generous amount can make the dish too dark, and the taste can also become very overwhelming.
Squid ink is one of the most unique ingredients that find endless application in various culinary recipes. From simply transforming your usual pasta into an eye-candy dish to enhancing its flavor, squid ink is the simplest solution. Not to forget the vast possibilities of health benefits you gain from it.