How can you tell if the squid is freshly caught or is already ilada (helada in Spanish; iced in English)

The freshest of lukos (except of course if it’s the bagulan variety which oversecretes its black ink) is white and not pinkish or reddish.

Many years ago, my husband and I were invited to Carles, Iloilo’s northernmost town. It is said to be the Alaska of the Philippines ( not anymore because of illegal fishing). There I witnessed a fishing boat unload their catch – lukos. I didn’t know fresh lukos was supposed to be white, and somewhat translucent until that experience in Carles. For the locals, it was even unnecessary to cook lukos over fire. They ate the lukos– kinilaw style-that is, dip the lukos in the Ilonggo sinamak (spiced native vinegar) and pop straight into the mouth.

Well, early this morning, I persuaded my husband to bring me to the town of San Miguel, Wednesday being a market day (its other tienda is Sunday). My task: buy seafoods (I discovered it’s relatively cheaper here than at the Huebesan or the famous Jaro Thursday Market).

Approaching the fish section, I immediately spotted super-fresh medium-sized squid. It was glistening white and firm. 60 for half a kilo (P120/kilo) was the offer of the lady fish vendor from Barotac. She said its her buena mano price (if you’re the very first buyer, you get a discount as good luck for the vendor). Without hesitation, I bought me my squid. It couldn’t get any fresher than that. I had the perfect recipe in mind…