What is Cuttlefish (Sepia spp.)?

Cuttlefish Cuttlefish

Common names for Cuttlefish

Common cuttlefish

Other languages for Cuttlefish

  • French name: Sèche
  • Italian name: Seppia
  • German name: Tintenfisch

Introduction to Cuttlefish

The cuttlefish, a ten-armed mollusc related to the octopus and squid, has a flat, rectangular body and thin fins. The body is bigger and thicker than that of a squid, giving it a meatier texture, while the ink sac is larger and darker than that of a squid or octopus. One set of arms is longer than the others and is used to catch prey. Sizes of cuttlefish species vary from two inches to two feet. When a cuttlefish gets frightened, it darts forcefully backward by ejecting a water jet from its mantle cavity. Historically, its ink was used to create a brown pigment known as sepia. Cuttlefish are not found in North America except as an export from Europe, where they are collected by trawling, trapping, and netting and are as abundant as squid. It is collected in the Indo-coastal Pacific’s waters, whereas a bigger type of cuttlefish known as sepia is found in the eastern Atlantic, from France to west Africa. Other nationalities represented include those from Korea, Japan, and Australia.

Product profile for Cuttlefish

Fresh cuttlefish have zebra-like stripes across their mantels and are light brown. Meat that has been cooked is completely white. Cuttlefish that have been cleaned are brilliant white and generally have all of their tentacles intact. They have a thin, purple membrane on their bodies that should be removed if they are not cleansed. Cuttlefish flesh has a sweet flavor. The texture is comparable to that of a fish fillet, and if cooked properly, it is extremely soft.

Cooking tips for Cuttlefish

Cuttlefish can be steamed, stewed in wine, stir-fried, sautéed, or battered and fried like squid. It may also be used to make sushi. Cuttlefish strips marinated in olive oil, garlic, and vinegar are grilled quickly for a European delight. Try it in “black pasta” with garlic, shallots, onion, rosemary, and thyme, as much of what’s sold as squid ink is actually cuttlefish ink. If the meat is overcooked, it will become rubbery and chewy.

Nutrition facts for Cuttlefish

Calories: 79 Fat Calories: 6 Total Fat: 0.7 g Saturated Fat: 0.1 g Cholesterol: 112 mg Sodium: 372 mg Protein: 16.2 g Omega 3: 0.1 g

Primary product forms for Cuttlefish

Fresh: Whole, Cleaned, Fillets (mantle portions, split lengthwise) Frozen: Whole, Cleaned, Fillets (mantle portions, split lengthwise), Strips Value-added: Breaded or unbreaded strips, Dried, Ink

Global supply for Cuttlefish

VAustralia, Bangladesh, China, France, Greece, India, Japan, Korea, Senegal, Spain, Thailand, Tunisia, Iran