Miso Squid (Ika No Misozuke)

Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Preserving the Japanese Way: Traditions of Salting, Fermenting, and Pickling for the Modern Kitchen

"We are fortunate to have a constant supply of very fresh squid in Japan which stands up to the miso in this recipe. Squid is naturally taut and becomes slightly caramelized during the long, slow cooktime. Utterly delectable as a pre-dinner snack or appetizer, this dish is also excellent served cold the following day." —Nancy Singleton Hachisu


  • 5 small fresh squid (about ⅓ pound/150 grams each)
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon sake
  • 4 tablespoons brown rice or barley miso
  • 1 to 2 small dried red chiles, sliced into fine rings


Position a cutting board immediately to the left of the kitchen sink. Set the bag of squid directly behind the board and a wire-mesh strainer in the sink itself. Remove the squid from the bag and lay them on the board. 

Gently dislodge the inner gastric sacs from the bodies by running your finger around the perimeter of the inside body walls and pull the sac out in one piece. Reserve the sacs and some of the meat for making shiokara, if you like, otherwise discard. Stick your finger inside the body and pull out the plastic-like stick, called the gladius, and set the bodies in the sink to wash. 

Pat the cleaned squid bodies well with a dry dish towel. Drape the squid across a dinner plate and sprinkle all sides with salt. Stash in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours uncovered.

Muddle the sake into the miso and spread over all surfaces of the squid bodies with a small rubber scraper; smooth around the tentacles (still attached at the top) with your fingers. 

Return the squid to the refrigerator for 2 or 3 hours more to achieve a deep, dark taste. Grill slowly over low-ember coals or on a rack set in the third slot from the top of an oven broiler for about 5 minutes on each side. Julienne the caramelized squid and serve.

Variation: The laconic gentleman who hid behind dark glasses at the Wajima air-dried fish place parted with his favorite way to make squid: Marinate the cleaned squid in soy sauce for 30 minutes and grill. Simple. I like to serve it with a squeeze of yuzu or Meyer lemon.

Recipe reprinted from Preserving the Japanese Way: Traditions of Salting, Fermenting, and Pickling for the Modern Kitchen, by Nancy Singleton Hachisu/Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC.


6 servings