Friday, January 9, 2015

How to cook an Octopus

This is a large octopus weighing about 7lbs.In most places not close to the sea octopus are usually found frozen in balls or packed flat on a tray.  Some people say freezing helps to tenderize the flesh.  For this recipe any size octopus can be used.  Cooking times will vary with different sizes.
Frozen Octopus are usually fully or mostly cleaned.  Sometimes you must remove the hard beak on the underside of the body and or cut off the eyes.
Bring a large pot of water to a simmer with a lemon halved, and onion halved, a pinch of peppercorns and a few bay leaves.  When the water it boiling slowly add the octopus allowing the legs to curl up before submerging the body.
Bring back to a simmer.  Try not to allow the water to boil too hard.  Simmer until tender.  This may take anywhere from 15-30 min for smaller octopus to well over an hour for larger ones.  Test for doneness by poking with a fork.  As soon as you can pierce the flesh with little resistance carefully remove the octopus from the broth and drain well.
Allow to cool a bit.  At this point you can cut the octopus into pieces for a salad or a sauce.  One preparation that works great is marinating and grilling the octopus.  Make a marinade by squeezing some fresh lemon juice.  Stir in a splash of vinegar, some chopped garlic, fresh or dried oregano, salt, pepper and a pinch of hot pepper.  Whisk in some extra virgin olive oil.  If using small baby octopus leave them whole.  For larger octopus either cut in 1/2, 1/4, or 1/8ths lengthwise from head to tentacle, leaving the tentacles intact.  Place the octopus pieces in the marinade and toss to coat.  Marinate for a little while then preheat a grill.
Cook until nice and charred.  Serve with a nice green salad, a fresh salsa or chutney, or a nice fresh fennel and orange salad like in the picture above.  Buon appetito!

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