Grilled Cuttlefish

Grilled Cuttlefish

A show of hands. Who out there has had or even heard of cuttlefish? I'm pretty sure the list of people who come here that raised their hand is fairly short. Don't worry you're not alone! I too, was amongst the majority up until I met my husband (and it was probably after we were married before I ever heard about cuttlefish) and then I never had cuttlefish until I moved here to Portugal.

For those who have never heard/had this interesting mollusk (cephalopoda with a shell on the inside), cuttlefish are fairly similar to squid in that they are from the same family, have the same body shape (though a squid is more slender) with tentacles, and the flavor and texture is also similar.

Grilled Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish also have ink but instead of the black of squid ink, the cuttlefish has a brown ink called sepia (also the name of a brown tint). This apparently tastes pretty good in sauces, but I have yet to try it.

I  found cuttlefish to be very similar to squid so the two can be substituted for the other depending on what you can get your hands on, but if at all possible try to get it fresh.

Grilled Cuttlefish


Tip: If you are getting fresh cuttlefish, look for skin that is intact and bright as well  as a body with the tentacles, head and such intact. It should also have a fresh sea smell, not a fishy smell. When storing, clean well and remove guts/ink sac and place in an air tight container or wrapped well in plastic wrap. Cuttlefish can be refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Grilled Cuttlefish


Grilled Cuttlefish
  • 4-5 cuttlefish with tentacles
  • couple pinches of salt
  • 1 lemon (optional)
Be certain to clean the cuttlefish well if it still has the guts and ink sac. To remove the spine, grab the bone between your forefinger and thumb and twist towards yourself. This will cut through the hood but should come away with ease (if by chance you have a pet bird of some sort, they apparently love the spine from squid or cuttlefish, so be sure to save it as a treat!).

Cut the tentacles off the bottom and split the body down the middle if not already done.

Sprinkle with the salt on both sides of each cuttlefish and tentacles.

Grilled Cuttlefish

Place the cuttlefish  on a grill with hot glowing coals and allow to cook 3-5 minutes on each side (depending on size). If you are using flame or an oven instead of a grill, cooking time may be quicker to keep it from becoming tough.

Cuttlefish is done cooking when the flesh is white and no longer translucent and if the skin is still on, it will turn purple. Don't over cook as it will be tough!


Squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the cooked cuttlefish and tentacles and serve with a fresh salad!

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