About the Cuttlefish- Ika

The Ika is a dried, shredded and seasoned seafood snack, originally made from cuttlefish (squid). Often referred to as dried shredded cuttlefish, the product is rich in protein and full flavor but low in calories and fat. Most people think it’s a good Asian match for beef jerky as it is predominant in Hawaii, Russia and most Asian countries.



Cuttlefishes are commonly found in Pacific coastal regions of Southeast Asia and East Asia. Originally called you yu si in Chinese and surume in Japanese, it was translated to ‘dried shredded cuttlefish (squid)’when it was introduced to the English-speaking regions in packaged patterns. The first shredded cuttlefish sales began in Macau as a complement to almond biscuit, during the 1970s it has gained great popularity in Hong Kong as it was sold and consumed routinely. In Japan, it is often served as an otsumami since it is served alongside drinking alcohol.  In Korea; it is served as anju or banchan which is a name for snacks added to side dishes. It is sold in bags as a light snack in the major cities of China. Long before the ban of chewing gum in Singapore in 1992, it was an addictive snack that popular among the older generation and was marketed by Ken Ken; a food manufacturing company in the 1970s.

Preparation, Packaging, & Taste

First of all, the cuttlefish is divided into several parts, skinned and cooked for 4-5 minutes at 60-80 °C and for about four hours, with a temperature below 20 °C, it is then cooled, grated and seasoned. Some typical ingredients could include sweeteners, sorbitol, MSG, organic acid, sugar and salt. Drying can be done for about 12- 20 hours and within the temperature of 40-45°C till it attains a 40 % moisture level. The storage process follows immediately after the drying stage where it is kept for two weeks or more in a cold room and further dried for 3-5 minutes at a temperature of 110 °C - 120 °C. Shredding, seasoning and drying is being done again but this time at a reduced 25-27% moisture level, the color turns brownish or tanned yellow at this stage. The color change is as a result of the presence of amino acid in the squid which manifested because of the prolonged storage period. Packages filled with nitrogen or vacuum can also escalate the brownish color effect but most consumers prefer less browning.


To keep Ikas chewy and tough, the bags are sealed airtight since the most prevalent distribution method in modern Asia is the prepackaged form. Unpackaged Ikas are limited in supply unlike the packaged form of cuttlefishes.  There is a ratio of monosodium glutamate (MSG) added but this depends on the company that does the preparation and packaging.

The Dried Shredded Cuttlefish (Ika) has a rich, jerky-like and chewy taste. The Village Voice icon- Joe Distefano depicts it as ‘A chewable fibrous bit that gives your jaw a brief workout, it is scathed with a sumptuous amount of chili pepper, salt, sugar and a hip of fishiness’




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