A Close Cousin to The Octopus and The Squid
Cuttlefish are related to the octopus and the squid and characterized by a thick internal calcified shell called the cuttlebone, however, they are soft-bodied. Approximately 100 species are known, ranging between 2.5 and 90 cm (1 to 35 inches) and have flattened bodies and a pair of narrow fins. All species have eight arms and two longer tentacles with suction discs that are used in capturing prey and can be withdrawn into two pouches. Cuttlefish are molluscs and found throughout the ocean waters of the world, living up to one year.
Despite the name, the cuttlefish is not a fish, but a cephalopod (meaning ‘head-foot’) which includes close cousins squid and octopus and distant cousin, the Nautilus. It has the largest brain to body size of all invertebrates, and recent studies have shown it to be probably the most intelligent.
Cuttlefish are sometimes called the chameleon of the sea because they are able to change their skin color. Their skin can flash a colorful pattern in order to communicate with other cuttlefish, like during fighting and mating, and to camouflage them from predators. They also have an ink sack which ejects ink used against prey or predator.
How do you eat cuttlefish? The sac can be broken, the ink washed off with cold running water without affecting the quality of the squid or cuttlefish. The tentacles and arms from the head can be cut and eaten, but the remains of the head which contain the guts and small hard beak are discarded. The black ink can be harvested for use in pasta and risotto.
Ika is a type of cuttlefish but is also known as a squid. It is commonly found along the coast of Japan. It has a transparent look to it, evidently turning to white after being caught. Later, it will turn into a brownish color, thus making it easy to tell how fresh it is over time.
It is usually cut for use in nigiri type sushi but it can also be eaten as sashimi. While it is best to eat it as sushi (nigiri way), there are other ways that the Japanese consume cuttlefish such as having it grilled, raw (sashimi), sautéed, or simmered with vinegar. The taste of Ika if you have it as nigiri, has a nice, tender and sweet flavor. If you order it in a Japanese restaurant, they will offer several types of dipping sauces along with wasabi. The best sauce is a mixture of soy sauce and butter.
Enjoy Fresh, Seasonal Ika in Bellevue
Love one of Sushi In Joy’s best sushi offerings – cuttlefish or Ika. When in season, hence sometimes hard to find, you’ll have fresh, tender cuttlefish sushi in our trendy Japanese restaurant.