Squid and octopus might not be the most common seafood choices at your dinner table, but they make a delicious alternative when you’re craving something a little bit beyond your typical salmon or lobster. While similar in a myriad of ways, squid and octopus are actually two very different beasts, err mollusks, rather.

Let’s start with their physical characteristics. They are both head-footed aquatic animals and are classified as cephalopods. This basically means they have arms coming out of their heads! However, an octopus has a round head with eight arms attached. Squid, on the other hand, have triangular heads adorned with two fins. They also have eight arms and two tentacles, all arranged in pairs.

In terms of cooking, these differences in size and shape can lead to distinctions in texture and taste. In general, octopus is lighter, less chewy and an overall great low-calorie protein—one with the seemingly magical ability to absorb the flavors of the other ingredients it’s prepared with. Boiling, poaching, and grilling are all common means of preparation as well. It turns out there are few wrong ways to cook a bumpy-skinned octopus.

Squid, or calamari as it’s frequently termed on menus, is definitely smoother. However, it can also be chewier and less tender when eaten. Like octopus, it also soaks up sauces quite well and can be prepared a number of ways. Braising, boiling, searing, grilling all work fine. Just be sure to cook it one of two ways: either fast and over high heat or slow and with low heat. Anything in between results in an undesirably rubbery texture.

Here are some recipes to inspire you to stretch out your tentacles in the kitchen during this summer seafood season!

Fried Calamari 

Chowhound

A classic appetizer we can’t get enough of. Buttermilk batter helps make the squid extra crispy. Garnish with lemon for a real crowd pleaser. Get our Fried Calamari recipe.

Sauteed Calamari with Parsley and Garlic

For a lighter approach, go with sauteed calamari. Parsley and garlic are simple, yet aromatic flavors that complement squid perfectly. Get our Sauteed Calamari recipe.

Easy Grilled Octopus

Chowhound

You’ve probably been barbecuing all summer. It’s time to step it up a notch and throw some octopus on your grill. We swear it’s not as intimidating as you think! Get our Easy Grilled Octopus recipe.

Ensalada de Pulpo (Octopus Salad)

Delish D’Lites

For a Caribbean twist on octopus, try ensalada de pulpo. It’s a hearty seafood salad with a kick of zesty peppers and herbs. Check out this recipe for Octopus Salad.

Octopus Slices with Sesame Dipping Sauce

Maangchi

This sesame seed dipping sauce is a perfect accompaniment to boiled octopus, as it brings out a rich umami flavor. Check out this recipe for Octopus Slices with Sesame Dipping Sauce.

Calamari Stewed with Tomatoes 

Simply Recipes

This tomatoey, Italian stew can be topped over pasta for a delicious one-bowl meal. Perfect for those transitional days between summer and fall. Check out this recipe for Stewed Calamari with Tomatoes.

Related Video: Sauteed Calamari with Parsley and Garlic

Jessica is an Associate Editor at Chowhound. Follow her on Twitter @volume_knob for updates on snacks and cats.
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