Cuttlefish/Squid or Seiche as they are known in French and Seppia as they are known in Italian are an acquired taste particularly when the dish is prepared using cuttlefish ink. We tend to use cuttlefish to make into salads similar to the octopus salad or else we grill it and serve it in its own ink or make a Risotto with cuttlefish ink which makes the rice turn black and serve it with grilled cuttlefish - this is an Italian recipe called Risotto al Nero di Seppia.
|A close-up photograph of the cuttlefish.|
Cuttlefish are marine animals of the order Sepiida. They belong to the class Cephalopoda, which also includes squid, octopuses, and nautiluses. 'Cuttle' is a reference to their unique internal shell, the cuttlebone; and despite their name, cuttlefish are true molluscs.
Cuttlefish have large W-shaped pupils, eight arms and two tentacles furnished with denticulated (very finely toothed) suckers, with which they secure their prey. They generally range in size from 15 cm (5.9 in) to 25 cm (9.8 in), with the largest species, Sepia apama, reaching 50 cm (20 in) in mantle length and over 10.5 kg (23 lb) in weight.
Cuttlefish eat small molluscs, crabs, shrimp, fish, octopuses, worms, and other cuttlefish. Their predators include dolphins, sharks, fish, seals, seabirds and other cuttlefish. Their life expectancy is about one to two years. Recent studies indicate that cuttlefish are among the most intelligent invertebrates. Cuttlefish also have one of the largest brain-to-body size ratios of all invertebrates.
Cuttlefish are caught for food in the Mediterranean, East Asia, the English Channel and elsewhere. Although squid is more popular as a restaurant dish all over the world, in East Asia dried, shredded cuttlefish is a popular snack food.
Cuttlefish are especially popular in Italy, where they are used in Risotto al Nero di Seppia (literally black cuttlefish rice). The Croatian Crni Rižot is a similar recipe, which probably originated in Venice and then spread across both coasts of the Adriatic. "Nero" and "Crni" mean black, the color rice turns because of the cuttlefish ink.
In Spain, breaded and deep-fried cuttlefish is a popular dish in Andalusia, where it is known as choco. Spanish cuisine, especially that of the coastal regions, uses cuttlefish and squid ink for the marine flavour and smoothness it provides; it is included in dishes such as rice, pasta and fish stews.
In Portugal, cuttlefish is present in many popular dishes, chocos com tinta (cuttlefish in black ink) being among the most popular. This dish is made with grilled cuttlefish served in a marinade of its own ink. Cuttlefish is also the regional dish of the city of Setúbal and surrounding areas, where it is served as deep-fried strips or in a variant of feijoada, with red kidney beans. A somewhat popular food is black dry spaghetti (also present in other pasta) that one can find in any store right next to the normal dry variant. The black color comes from using the ink of the cuttlefish during industrial food processing and is known as esparguete de tinta de choco (cuttlefish ink spaghetti).