Garlicky Grilled Squid

How to catch, clean and cook delicious squid

You need patience and finesse to snare ‘all-seeing’ squid, but this abundant food source is quick to prepare and even faster to cook.

All you need is a squid jig and a hand reel or rod, and a couple of lazy twilight hours.

Here are our best tips for catching squid, cleaning them up and cooking them into one of the tastiest (and easiest) meals ever!

Find your squid

Squid prefer clear rather than turbid waters, and tend to emerge in plain sight on the latter part of the rising tide.

They like sheltered locations – which is why you’ll often spot them conveniently hanging off your anchor chain or mooring line!

Except when artificial lights are around, squid are more likely to be snared in the late evening or at dawn. 

Get them on your line

When you spot a squid, launch your line and use jerky, quick bursts to mimic the backwards motion that a prawn makes through the water. Once it’s hooked, reel your line in slowly and steadily.

Kill the squid quickly (before you get inked) by giving it a solid squeeze just behind the eyes, or by spiking it between the eyes. 

Clean your squid

To prepare your squid, cut the tentacles off just below the eyes (keep them or discard them, it’s up to you).

Pull the head away from the tube (you might need to stick your thumb inside the tube to loosen any connective tissue), and give it a twist to separate it.

Remove and discard the beak. Use your thumb to separate the skin from the flesh, working your way around the tube and peeling off the outer layer of skin and membrane (this should also remove the wings).

Pull and slide out the quill, and turn the entire tube inside out to rinse well. Your tube is now ready to be stuffed, scored or sliced into rings. 

Cook up a feast

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Things you can cook up in rolly galleys, on passage, over campfires, outside on the barbecue, and with kids ‘helping’ too.

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We include our best tips for staying fed and healthy while cruising: fishing, coastal foraging, micro boat gardens, plus how to brew ginger beer, bake sourdough, sprout micro greens and make yoghurt and cheese on board too. 

There are sea sickness remedies, recipes for natural first aid and cleaning supplies, plus tips on prepping for passages, storing fresh supplies to make them last the trip, how to set up a galley, simple equipment I love, and plastic-free living on the sea. 


Chilli & Garlic Grilled Squid 

Serves 4, gluten-free
  • 4 squid tubes, cleaned and rinsed 
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • good pinch of salt
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1-2 red chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of fresh herbs (parsley, oregano, dill)
  • 1 lemon or lime
  • 16 skewers

Slice open the squid tubes and cut each one lengthways into four strips. Pat dry with paper towel – really dry – so that the squid chars quickly once you get it on the grill and stays tender.

Thread each piece onto a skewer. 

Get your barbecue grill really hot. If cooking over campfire coals, allow the flames to die down then sit your grill over the top.

Oil the squid with a good drizzle of olive oil (1-2 tbsp) and season with a little salt.

Barbecue for 2 minutes a side, then take off the heat and set aside. 

Warm a skillet pan on your barbecue or over the fire, then add about two tablespoons of olive oil.

Gently fry the garlic and chopped chilli for 1 minute.

Add the chopped fresh herbs and stir through, then place the skewers in the pan and toss gently for less than 30 seconds to coat. Use Mediterranean-style herbs (parsley, dill and oregano), or replace with Thai basil and coriander for Asian flavour.

Take the pan off the heat, add a good squeeze of lemon or lime, and serve.