By Nissie Arcega
Ever wondered what the difference between pusit and lumot is? Pusit (squid) and lumot (cuttlefish) are actually pretty interchangeable in terms of cooking. Any recipe that calls for squid can be substituted for cuttlefish and vice versa, however they have their fair share of distinct differences.
In the Wild
Squid and cuttlefish are both cephalopods, which are basically soft-bodied mollusks with no shells. They’re close cousins with the octopus and the nautilus. Although, squid and cuttlefish are both ten-armed cephalopods, meaning they have eight short arms and two long tentacles.
Squid have torpedo-shaped bodies, while cuttlefish are more flat.
At the Market
Squid is most commonly seen around fresh markets while cuttlefish is usually sold frozen at groceries, but there are some specialty wet markets that sell fresh cuttlefish. Cuttlefish is also usually more expensive at PHP330 to PHP630 per kilo, and squid is at PHP150 to PHP380 per kilo. Aside from that, cuttlefish is often sold cleaned (with the skin off) here in the Philippines, while squid is more commonly preferred to have its skin on. Cuttlefish also have W-shaped pupils, while squid have round pupils. Most squid are fished in Zamboanga and Cebu, while cuttlefish are more commonly found in Zamboanga and Palawan.
The rules are generally the same when preparing both squid and cuttlefish, with the only difference pertaining to the removal of their respective “internal shells.” Squid have pens or quills, which can easily be removed by pulling it out from the mantle. Cuttlefish, on the other hand, have a wide cuttlebone (responsible for its buoyancy and flat shape) that often requires cutting a slit in its skin to take out. Another slight difference is that cuttlefish usually has a larger beak than squid, so you will have to apply more pressure on the lip and pull out the beak.
Though both can be stuffed with filling (relleno), cuttlefish is more commonly used because it’s bigger. However, the squid’s tubular shape also makes it a candidate for some stuffings. Most pasta and paella dishes usually use cuttlefish ink because it’s just more abundant (they have bigger ink sacs than squids), but they’re heavily interchangeable and provide the same effects and taste.
Although they’re practically interchangeable, some prefer one over the other for particular dishes. Here’s a quick reference for what kind of dishes each type is best for that you can easily make:
Squid is a more familiar taste than cuttlefish, and is often known to be grilled or cooked as adobo. However, cuttlefish has a richer taste, often with notes of inherent sweetness in the meat. The texture is more or less the same, but squid is usually less meaty. This also depends on the size of the squid.
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