You’ve seen them in your local Mala Xiang Guo store and the frozen section of your neighbourhood supermarkets. Call them a staple in Singapore’s hawker culture or Singaporean’s favourite processed finger food, whatever it may be, the popularity of cuttlefish and sotong balls cannot be denied.
Made with fresh seafood, gently massaged, and squeezed into a ball that is later pre-cooked in a simmering pot of water, these products of a time-consuming process have somehow found their way into our hearts. But do you know the difference between cuttlefish and sotong? Are their flavour profiles so distinct that you’re able to easily distinguish one from the other? We’ll give you all the information you need to know about these cephalopods, their differences, and where you can find them to whip up a mean meal.
Clarifying Differences Between Sotong and Cuttlefish
As their names suggest, cuttlefish balls are mainly made from cuttlefish, while sotong balls are made from squid. While both sotong and cuttlefish belong to the same animal class known as the cephalopods and have ten tentacles each, they are two different species.
What is Sotong?
“Sotong” is a Malay word for squid. Commonly used in Western countries to make the famous breaded calamari rings, these sleek, elongated, cylindrical and torpedo-shaped seafood has become a staple ingredient in many cuisines all over the world. The meat tends to be on the tougher side, making it slightly rubbery yet smooth in texture. When cooked, this toughness dissipates, and you’ll be on the receiving end of tender and firm calamari.
Distinct physical traits of the squid include its two long extremely long tentacles that are used to catch prey and O-shaped pupils.
What is Cuttlefish?
Nicknamed that “ugly cousin” of squid, cuttlefish are fatter, stouter and rounder when compared to squid. Almost like the black sheep of the family, they have a different look to them due to their reddish-brown skin and white markings. Unlike the thin body and long legs of the squid, cuttlefish have eight stubby tentacles and two long ones with denticulated suckers. Generally smaller in size, they average at about 20cm. But don’t let its small size fool you. Given its thicker body, cuttlefish is meatier, giving you loads to work with.
Distinct physical traits of cuttlefish include its lateral fins that act as stabilisers and for steering and propulsion, as well as its unique W-shaped pupils.
Difference in Taste
On the cooking and food side, one of the most commonly asked questions is what they taste like and how do the flavour profiles of squid and cuttlefish differ from each other.
Squid has a mild flavour that is close to that of shrimp and lobster. While many may say that squid is tasteless, the truth of the matter is that the meat of the squid does a wonderful job of soaking up butter and sauces well. This means that regardless of your chosen cooking method, be it boiling, braising, grilling or frying, the squid will take in all the delicious goodness of your prepared gravy or batter. However, a slight misstep while cooking, and you’ll be left with a chewy and bland rubbery blob in your dish.
Cuttlefish, on the other hand, are naturally more flavourful than squid. In its raw state, it has a light egg white and melon-like aroma, and a flavour profile that is full of milky notes. Boasting a sweeter taste when cooked, it offers a more complete mouthfeel with its crisp bite and creamy texture. Its livelier flavour is revered by many and used for many cooking methods. For example, in Asian cultures they are dried and used in stocks and soups for an additional flavour boost. Cuttlefish can also be cooked for longer, making them the ideal choice for stews.
Dishes That Use Cuttlefish Balls and Sotong Balls
Convenient foods to deep-fry and serve at a party, there are a plethora of other reasons why Singaporeans go hungry for sotong balls and cuttlefish balls. Just like frozen fish balls, sotong and cuttlefish balls can be thrown into stews and soups. Better yet, the All Big Frozen Food’s frozen sotong and frozen cuttlefish balls are pre-cooked, so all you’ll have to do is blanch them again before consumption. Throw them into the pot while preparing a steamboat we can’t get enough of or stir fry them with vegetables or noodles for a quick meal – the number of ways to enjoy these steamboat classics are limitless.
Buy Cuttlefish Ball and Sotong Ball Online in Singapore
From frozen whole cuttlefish to frozen cuttlefish balls, All Big Frozen Food’s range of top-quality frozen squid, cuttlefish, and steamboat items will satisfy the most discerning seafood lover. Browse our All Big Frozen Food catalogue and buy frozen cuttlefish and sotong ball at our store. While you’re at it, shop our extensive collection of seafood for the ultimate seafood dinner!