The Culinary Architect: Dymystify making octopus at home

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The Culinary Architect: Dymystify making octopus at home
Octopus Salad

By Alexandra Troy

There are approximately 300 species of octopus, a soft-bodied, eight-limb mollusk that live in the ocean. Octopus is very low in calories and high on flavor and nutrients. A 3-ounce serving of octopus has approximately 150 calories and more than 25 grams of protein. Besides protein, octopus is high in iron, selenium and vitamin B-12.

If prepared properly, the octopus’ eight limbs can be quite delicious. If prepared improperly, octopus has no flavor and can be quite rubbery.

Most fishmongers sell the octopus cleaned. Clean includes removing the inedible part of the octopus, the eyes, beak, intestines and ink sac.

Once your octopus has the inedible parts removed, thoroughly wash it to be sure there is no sand. Next, bring stock and wine to boil in a stock pot. Add three corks and then your octopus.

For some reason, the cork is the secret to tender octopus. Cook the octopus until tender, approximately 13 minutes per pound.

Let the octopus cool completely in its poaching liquid. Then, cut it into chunks and toss in a sauce of your choosing. I have given you two of my favorite ways to serve octopus.

Once you give these recipes a try you will make octopus part of your weekly dining and entertaining repertoire. It is easy to make and delicious to eat.

Menu
(Serves 4)

Octopus & Avocado Salad
or
Octopus, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Olives and Caper Salad
Crusty Peasant Bread*

*Recipe Not Given

OCTOPUS & AVOCADO SALAD

For the octopus:
3 lbs. clean octopus
1 bottle white wine
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 onion, cut into quarters
1 celery, peeled and sliced
1 quart of water

For the salad:
2 avocado, cut in half, pit removed
1/4 cup best quality olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
2 tblsp. ground mustard
3 tblsp. fresh dill sprigs
1 cup pitted olives (optional)
Dill for garnish

1. In a stock pot large enough to hold your octopus, make a seafood stock of water, wine, carrots, celery and onion. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer. Add 3 corks.

2. Dip the octopus into the water three times, the tentacles will start to curl up. On the fourth dip, place the octopus in the pot and let is cook for approximately 45 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the octopus cool in the pot. I then place it in the refrigerator for one hour.

3. Cut the octopus into chunks. Set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, place the ground mustard, shallot and dill sprigs. Slowly add the olive oil and stir. Toss the octopus in the “dressing.” Add olives, if using.

5. To serve, place an avocado on each plate. Put a scoop of Octopus in each avocado “shell.” Garnish with a bushy spring of dill. Serve with crusty bread to soak up all the sauce and octopus juice.

OCTOPUS, POTATOES, TOMATOES, OLIVES & CAPER SALAD

1 3-lb. octopus, cooked exactly the same way as above, through Step 3.
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

For the dresing:
Juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Pinch of red pepper flake
1. While your octopus is cooking, bring a pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat, and cook the potatoes until fork tender.
2.Drain, and let the potatoes come to room temperature.
3. Place octopus in a bowl along with the cooled potatoes, tomatoes, olives, capers, and parsley.
4.In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad, Gently toss, then serve on a platter.

Alexandra Troy is owner of Culinary Architect Catering, a 35-year-old Greenvale-based company, specializing in private, corporate and promotional parties. Need help making your parties delicious and stress-free, call 516-484-7431 and you will be a guest at your own party.  If you make any of these recipes, send me a photo at [email protected].

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