Ingredient of the Week: Sepia

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

What is it? Sepias are cephalopods - in the same class as octopus and squid - and have the largest brain-to-body size ratios of all invertebrates, so they're pretty clever little creatures. While it's also known as a cuttlefish, the sepia isn't actually a fish, it's a mollusk.

The ink of the cuttlefish is also known by the name "sepia," which came to describe an entire genre of photography using ink made from the cuttlefish. In the wild, it releases this ink to ward off predators. The ink is prized in the culinary world and is used in pasta and rice, giving it a rich flavor and a distinct, dark brown, almost black, coloring.

What is it used for? Sepia is often used in a dish to make black risotto in Italy - the flesh of the cuttlefish as well as the ink. There are also recipes for grilled sepia and soups, stews and pastas made with the flesh (including paella).

Sepia ink is used in dyes and pigments as well as flavoring in certain dishes.

Where can I buy it? I found sepia for sale at Eataly in New York City (which prompted this post), but I'm guessing you could find it at Central Market and possibly some of the larger Asian markets in town, like Super H Mart and 99 Ranch Market.

Recipe: Black Risotto With Sepia: Courtesy of GroupRecipes.com

Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.