I bought a surume squid (called a "ma-ika" in some regions). This is a defrosted one. If you are going to eat the squid raw, buy a sashimi-ready one.
Take the guts out of the squid. Push your fingers into the squid body and pry apart the insides from the backbone and cartilage.
When you can't push your fingers in any further....
....hold onto a fin with one hand and the arms with the other hand, and pull the arms with intestines attached. If they don't come off in one go, push your fingers in again and twist and pry the intestines out.
Did you separate the body from the arms and guts? Cut the guts off from arms.
Cut the arms off right under the eyeballs. Don't cut through the eyes or they'll splatter! If you're good at this already, do it your way.
I don't like squid guts so I throw them out. If you do like the guts, I recommend grilling them wrapped in foil. (Fresh guts only.)
You'll find the beak near the end of the arms, so push it out with your fingers. It's hard so be careful. It's rather slimy around it.
This looks just like squid arms that are sold pre-cleaned. But you still have some work to do. If you stroke the arms you'll feel some hard things on the suckers. The fresher the squid, the harder those things are.
Use your thumbnail to scrape the hard things off the arms, starting from the base. A lot of translucent round things will fall out. These don't have a nice texture, so take them off diligently.
The body is next. Wash the cavity until it's clean, and remove any bits of guts still stuck to it. Take the cartilage out, too (the backbone?)
If you are using the squid for simmered dishes or you're grilling them you can use the squid parts at this stage! Good work!
To use the squid for sashimi or tempura, you have a bit more work to do. The arms are now done.
Place the squid body on a cutting board with the fin side facing up. Cut through the body along where the fin is attached, and open it up to form one large flat piece.
If you think you might cut through the other side of the body, fold the squid in half, insert your knife in the cavity, and slice open.
Here! It's been opened up neatly.
Pull the fins off the body slowly so that you don't tear the body.
Remove any skin that's remaining with paper towels by grabbing an edge and peeling it off. You can do this with your bare hands too, but it's slippery.
When the skin has been removed, the squid is now ready to use as sashimi! Slice it as thinly as you like to use as ika-somen (thin squid 'noodles')or squid sashimi.
Freeze the fins and arms, and defrost them in water to use in kakiage (tempura made with chopped up bits) or okonimiyaki anytime you want.
Lastly, here's how to prep the squid for tempura! If you're just going to chop it up and use it for tempura fritters, just follow up to Step 19! If you are deep frying it in larger pieces, read on.
There's a thin membrane on the inside of the body too. Score it very lightly in a crisscross pattern with your knife.
If there are any air bubbles left between the body and the skin, the oil may splatter, which is dangerous. Remove any moisture completely before dusting the squid with flour.
Story Behind this Recipe
When I was young I couldn't clean a squid, but I wanted to eat squid. The year that I got that urge, it was a bumper season for squid, so it was so cheap! I couldn't find instructions for doing something so basic in the cookbooks,so I snuck a peek in at the bookstore! (Nowadays you can find cookbooks like that though.) In the end, I phoned my mother and asked her how to do it. (LOL) When you really want to eat something, you'll do a lot to get there!
It's OK if you can't do it so neatly in the beginning! Just cut it however you can, take off any parts you can't eat, and try cooking it. In-season squid is cheap and delicious! Just give it a go the next time you feel an urge to eat squid. It's so yummy!