What’s In For You With Squid Ink?

Ever wonder what is the fuss over squid ink pasta or a flavourful bowl of sotong masak hitam? Well, apart from the taste and the shiny black appearance of the dishes, are the health benefits touted true to helping you achieve youthful skin, lower blood pressure and more? Read on and find out if squid ink is really worth the hype.


What Is Squid Ink?

If you have eaten or heard of calamari, you would probably know what squid is.  And squid ink is the black liquid ejected by the cephalopod as a defence mechanism, creating a sort of hindrance for the predator, hence giving the marine animal time to hide or escape. The ink consists mainly of melanin—the pigment also in our body responsible for the colour of the eyes, hair and skin—small amounts of amino acids, copper, iron, enzymes, lipids, catecholamines ( like dopamine), polysaccharides and more.

To obtain squid ink, you are can harvest it from the fresh squid that you have gotten or from seafood markets or speciality grocery stores.


Contains Antioxidants

Purported to contain numerous antioxidants, even after the melanin is removed from the compound of squid ink, scientists have found that these antioxidants present have the potential to benefit the human body with lowering the risk of heart disease. However, it is premature to think that the lipids found in squid ink are a treatment for the heart as long-term research is required for a confirmation of the projected hypothesis or even to attain the desired results.


Contains Iron

Research published in a 2008 issue of “Journal of Food Science” reports that rats on a low-iron diet that were fed squid ink as a supplement showed higher red blood cell and haemoglobin counts than the rats that did not receive the supplement. While this research suggests that squid ink is a possible dietary iron supplement for humans, it requires more study and research for affirmation to be so.

And in any cases mentioned, the amount of iron and antioxidants that you can obtain from the available foods option prepared with the ink is likely too small for you to reap the aforementioned benefits. Thus claims of squid ink being the miracle ingredient to slow down ageing, lower blood pressure or increase memory and concentration for the human body is yet to be proven but still holds the potentials to be.


Glutamic Acid

Just like its dark colour suggests, squid ink can inject a rich and deep flavour to the dish. It has gained a spot in many people’s hearts (and stomachs), especially in traditional dishes in Italy and Spain. This unique and tasty flavour profile is due to the high level of glutamic acid present in the ink. Glutamic acid, also known as glutamates, is responsible for the rich flavour associated with umami of squid ink. And because of this, squid ink is able to bring a tasty flavour to the food without being a type salt or fat. Thus to cut back on fat or salt, you can actually substitute with squid ink to up the flavour department, that is if you do not mind that your dishes looking black and inky. A word of caution though, it may cause side effects to those who are sensitive to other sources of glutamates like monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG.


Recipe For Squid Ink Pasta

With that said, the whole hyped notion of consuming squid ink is currently pretty much one that is about booting flavours, visual appearance and a whole lot of ticklish fun with guests during mealtimes (when the ink temporarily stains one’s teeth and lips). So give this easy and delish squid ink pasta dish a go and watch your loved ones giggle by the blackened state of their mouth. You will need:

  • 1 large and fresh squid, whole
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, minced
  • Coarse ground black pepper to taste
  • Coarse sea salt, to taste and for cooking pasta of choice
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, diluted in a 4 tablespoons of water
  • 1/3 cup of dry white wine
  • 3/4 pound of spaghetti or linguine

Begin by carefully separating the head from the tentacles of the squid while cleaning it. Remove the guts and gently set the ink sacs aside and avoid breaking them. Wash the squid well under running water. Slice the squid’s body and chop the tentacles. Pierce the ink sacs over a small bowl to collect the ink. To make the squid ink sauce, in a heated pot, add the oil, chopped garlic, squid, minced parsley, and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Mix the diluted tomato paste with the white wine and add it to the pot. Bring to simmer and keep it going for 5 minutes, uncovered. Dilute the sauce with a little hot water if needed. When ready to serve, simply stir the squid ink into the sauce and add a pinch of salt to taste. Then toss in the cooked spaghetti or linguine (to cook pasta, follow instruction on its packaging) with the sauce and coat all of the strands evenly. Garnish with a sprig of parsley, a swig of olive oil and a quick dash of black pepper. Serve up and enjoy!