For those who are not expert chefs, distinguishing between the different ingredients that the sea offers us can be somewhat challenging. One of the most reasonable doubts our customers have arises when choosing between ordering baby squid (chipirones) or squid (calamares).
What is the difference between these two products that are so common in the Spanish diet? Is one better than the other? Is it advisable to consider each of them for different recipes? The confusion is considerable given that it is a product that is widely used and consumed on a daily basis, which we observe in our restaurant every day.
We’ll go over the differences between squid and baby squid and give you with the best advice to make the most of each of these products, both when dining out and when buying them to prepare at home.
Are there any differences between squid and baby squid?
It’s best to start by clearing up the most important doubt: What is the difference between squid and baby squid? Although you may not believe it, the only thing that changes the name from one product to another is the size.
There is no difference; it is the same animal, the same species, only that the squid is larger than the baby squid.
In both cases, whether squid or baby squid, we are referring to an elongated cephalopod mollusc with two tentacles and eight arms. The distinction made in fish markets, restaurants, and fishmongers is exclusively based on their size.
The baby squid is a young squid whose use began to get popular in the Basque Country with the renewal of the region’s cuisine. It was a time when chefs started exploring the different characteristics of the same product to get the most out of it. It is the one used to make the famous baby squid croquettes at Chao Pescao Seafood Barcelona.
Differences in Taste
Obviously, the difference in size and age between squid and baby squid means that according to some chefs, subtle nuances can be observed between the two and therefore, one may be more suitable for certain cooking methods and dishes than the other.
As a general rule, baby squid is often attributed a more tender texture and greater delicacy, while squid stands out for being firmer and having a stronger presence in the mouth.
Does this mean that baby squid is better than squid? Definitely not: the choice between one product or another will depend on the preparation, the culinary goals, and, above all, the taste preferences of the diner.
That’s why, at Chao Pescao, you will see some dishes on the menu prepared with squid, while others give the spotlight to baby squid. We’ll guide you on choosing the most suitable for each recipe.
What to Choose for Each Recipe
Now that it’s clear that, basically, baby squid and squid are the same, it can be assumed that both choices are perfect for both classic and more adventurous preparations with this ingredient. After all, it’s about knowing how to handle the cooking points to achieve the best texture and flavour, ensuring they don’t become rubbery and dry.
Nevertheless, there is a tendency to use squid in some dishes and baby squid in others.
A classic example is “calamares a la andaluza” or battered squid. For this delicious and well-known dish, squid works better, as the specimens are cut longitudinally into rings, and larger cephalopods allow us to make the most of this cut.
Another essential recipe in the Spanish national gastronomy where squid takes the spotlight, is the famous Madrid-style calamari sandwich, which has now spread to many seafood restaurants in Barcelona, with versions even created by prestigious chefs.
On the opposite end are baby squid, often used when prepared in sauce, as in the classic dish baby squid in their own ink, an exquisite delicacy.
Obviously, these recipes are interchangeable, and you can prepare battered baby squid as we do at Chao Pescao and squid in its own ink, with exquisite results. However, the usual trend encourages using each of them as we have highlighted.
An Essential Dish for Both Products
To begin exploring the subtle differences that can exist between baby squid and squid, chefs and specialized fishmongers recommend opting for a basic, yet exquisite preparation method: the grill.
Seasoned with garlic, parsley, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon after being grilled on a hot plate, squid or baby squid are enough to conquer any palate.
In fact, regardless of the few differences between them, baby squid or squid, with their different preparations, are often the most popular dishes in restaurants with Mediterranean menus like ours and even in homes across the country.
Once you know the difference between squid and baby squid and have reviewed some of the most popular recipes, you can explore the various cooking points and cuts of one of the kings of the sea on the table. And if you prefer us to prepare it for you, you know that at Chao Pescao, we bring you the best squid and baby squid from the market to your plate. We look forward to welcoming you to our restaurants!