Those pursuing squid are doing the jig at nights along various Puget Sound piers, and season that started last month will only get better through the winter.
In this week’s seafood recipe, Seattle sushi chef Taichi Kitamura, owner of Sushi Kappo Tamura on Eastlake, and winner in 2015 of Beat Bobby Flay on the Food Network, offers his take on how to prepare squid.
Kitamura was born and raised in Kyoto, Japan until he came to Seattle area. He graduated from Seattle University in 1997, and opened his first restaurant Chiso in 2001. He is also an avid fly fisherman.
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A word on squid jigging
Hordes of squid migrate into Puget Sound to spawn each fall and winter, and has become a popular nightly affair from Edmonds down to Tacoma.
Squid swarm like locusts, and can appear by the millions near lighted piers of Puget Sound at any given moment. They have a short life cycle of about 18 months. They return starting now to spawn annually and will feed heartily on small baitfish and crustaceans.
Most Puget Sound squid average 6 to 9 inches long, including tentacles, and aren’t like those giant ones off the southern West Coast known as Humboldt squid.
Jiggers can load up on a daily limit (five quarts or 10 pounds) with the best time being December and January, although the quest for squid begins around Labor Day.
The most popular places to catch them are along the Seattle waterfront at Piers 57, 62, 63, 70 and 86 or the Seattle Aquarium Pier.
Other good spots are the Des Moines Pier; Edmonds Pier; Point Defiance Park Pier and Les Davis Pier in Tacoma; Redondo Pier; Illahee State Park Pier; and the Waterman and Indianola piers in Kitsap County.
Catching them is relatively easy and you don’t need any fancy fishing gear nor a boat the get into the action.
The best time to catch them is an hour before or right at high tide. They tend to feed just after dark, and often in the middle of the night. When fishing is good they’ll even bite in the early-morning hours.
Squid are attracted to light and many will pack along portable high-powered lanterns to lower near the water along the docks and piers. Some locations like Pier 86 are well lit from lights hanging off the docks themselves.
It is wise to pack along several weighted jigs of various color combinations in chartreuse, lime green, red, pink candy stripe, hot pink and a wide variety of glow in the dark colors.
Any lightweight spinning rod and reel will work. Anglers raise the rod tip up to about 10 o’clock and then lower the jig to make it look like an injured fish.
Most squid schools tend to be just under the water’s surface to about 20 feet down. Working your lure from top to bottom is the best way to find them.
Calamari and Scallion Salad with Sumiso Dressing
1 pound cleaned squid
1 pound scallions, cut into two inch pieces
3 tablespoons of white miso
1.5 tablespoons of rice vinegar
2 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of hot water
Rinse squid under cold running water, then dry between paper towels. Halve the tentacles lengthwise and cut bodies crosswise into 1/3 inch wide rings.
Cook squid in four to six quarts of boiling water for 40 to 60 seconds until just opaque. Drain in a colander and transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
Cook scallions in four to six quarts of boiling water for 20 to 40 seconds until tender. Drain in a colander and transfer to ice water to cool. Squeeze the water with hands.
Whisk together the miso, vinegar, honey and hot water in a small bowl.
Combine squid and scallion in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing, and serve immediately.
(Recipe serves four people)
This season, esteemed local chefs will share recipes and advice on how to cook a wide variety of local seafood.
This year’s Pacific Northwest all-star lineup of chefs include chef and partner Ken Sharp of AQUA by El Gaucho in Seattle, executive chef Jesus Boites of El Gaucho in Tacoma, executive chef Sarah Scott of El Gaucho in Bellevue, executive chef Wesley Hood of AQUA by El Gaucho along with other chefs from El Gaucho and The Inn at El Gaucho; chef Shota Nakajima, owner of Naka; Megan Coombes chef and general manager of Altstadt in Seattle’s Pioneer Square; chef Maximillian Petty owner of Eden Hill on Queen Anne; chef Tom Douglas owner of Dahlia Lounge, Palace Kitchen and many more; chef Pat Donahue of Anthony’s Restaurants; executive chef Paul Duncan with Ray’s Boathouse & Cafe; Taylor Hoang, chef and owner of Pho Cyclo Cafes and Rickshaw Chef in Seattle; Jason Wilson, executive chef/partner of Miller’s Guild at the Hotel Max and executive chef of Coffee Flour in Seattle; chefs Jun Takai and Yasuhiro “Yasu” Kusano at Shiro’s Sushi in Seattle’s Belltown; and executive chef Jason Brzozowy for Tilth owned by Maria Hines.
Recipes will be posted every Wednesday and/or Thursday through Nov. 2. Also, if you have a recipe you’d like to reel-in my way, please let me know and I will post them, and will even test it out with my family and friends.