There are two basic ways of cleaning squid depending on whether the recipe calls for cutlets or strips or the whole mantle or rings. The sketches and directions below give these two methods.
Anatomy of a squid
This method is the faster of the two. Use if recipe calls for cutlets or strips
Step 1: Slip knife inside mantle and slit lengthwise along underside, or belly. Open mantle and scrape away viscera and pen (transparent backbone).
Step 2: To remove tentacles, cut in front of eyes. Squeeze tentacles near cut end to pop out hard, chitinous beak (see inset). Discard beak, pen, head and viscera. Reserve mantle and tentacles.
Step 3: Make cut in mantle about 1/4-inch from tail end (see inset). Holding membrane near cut, pull mantle away from membrane. Discard membrane. Rinse mantle with cold water; pat dry with paper towels. Use mantle whole or cut into strips widthwise. Use tentacles in recipe, or fry and serve as an appetizer.
Use if recipe calls for whole mantles or rings.
Step 1: Holding mantle in one hand, pinch pen (transparent backbone) with index finger and thumb of opposite hand, separating pen from mantle.
Step 2: Gently pull pen out of mantle, easing viscera out along with pen. Cut away tentacles as in Method A, Step 2.
Step 3: (Not illustrated) Scrape membrane to loosen from mantle. Peel away all membrane and discard. Rinse mantle thoroughly with cold water to remove any remaining viscera. Pat dry with paper towels.
Step 4: Use mantle whole or cut into rings. Use tentacles in recipe, or fry and serve as an appetizer.