Octopuses or octopi

December 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

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The winter storm has made its way to Five Islands. We are now intermittently getting rain, sleet, and snow. It’s a lovely mixture best viewed from inside a warm house, on a comfy chair, with a cocktail in hand. A full fridge (which includes a couple lobsters scheduled to be used in dish #3) and full liquor cabinet don’t hurt either. Also, a gassed up generator contributes to our peace of mind.

Last night we ventured into round number two of the “Week of Seven Fishes.” Any guesses on which fish I highlighted this time? Anybody?

Wow, you’re right. It was baby octopus. You are more perceptive than you look. Our friend Tim, who is co-owner and chef of the wonderful Trattoria Athena in Brunswick, acquired several pounds of baby octopus this week. Most of it was for the restaurant, but one pound came home to casa Masciola el norte. I used the octopus in a Mediterranean-style salad. Again, this is a pretty simple recipe, and it doesn’t call for a lot of ingredients. I bet most of you have these in your own well-stocked kitchens.

The most difficult step on this dish was step numero uno, cleaning the buggers. Maybe you’ll buy them already cleaned. If not, there are four steps: slicing the octopus in half just below the eyes; pulling out its guts; removing its little beak; and then removing the skin around the top part (not the tentacles). Tim gave me a quick squid-cleaning lesson the other night after we enjoyed a fantastic Feast of Seven Fishes at Trattoria Athena.

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After cleaning the octopi, I sliced them into smaller bits to marinate. It was then quick and easy to prep the rest of the ingredients: celery, hot pepper, parsley, and black olives. Now all that was left was essentially to sauté the octopi in olive oil and garlic, combine with the other ingredients, then plate, serve, and, of course, eat! OK, until tomorrow my friends.

Baby Octopus Salad
(Inspired by Baby Octopus with Garlic and Parsley from Jose Andres’ Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America)

2-3 T virgin olive oil
1 pound baby octopus, cleaned and sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8-10 black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
½ rib of chopped celery finely chopped, including leaves
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
½ hot pepper of your choosing (seed your pepper for less heat; I used a habanero)
2 T chopped flat leaf parsley
Salt, pepper to taste

After cleaning and slicing your octopi, marinate in 1 T or so of olive oil, a sliced garlic clove, salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice for one hour.

In the meantime, chop the veg, herbs, and olives, and add them to a large bowl with the remaining lemon juice and some olive oil.

In a griddle, add another T of olive oil over a medium high heat along with remaining garlic (and be careful not to burn the garlic). Drain the octopi from the marinade and add them to the griddle. They will still be wet, so it will take them a little longer than usual to cook. I left them on the griddle about five minutes before turning them and then left them another five minutes. I then tasted a small tentacle to determine if they were to my liking. You don’t want them too rubbery or too mushy. Some may want them a little more al dente than others. So taste and find out what you like.

Combine the octopi with all the other ingredients. Plate your salad.

Eat.

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