Apparently it’s one of the more economical and sustainable types of seafood available. So eat more octopus! Every time I come across some fresh octopus in city or provincial markets, I wonder if I am going to get them tender or will they turn out tough. In the past year, I am batting roughly 70% tender, 30% bizarrely tough. Folks who have been reading this blog for years know I have tried just about everything from beating, freezing, dunking, boiling, adding corks, braising in vinegar and other ingredients, braising in its own liquid, but I don’t seem to have that foolproof method yet. The best results have come from the simplest method… but it isn’t ALWAYS good.
Take fresh octopus, which I behead before cooking though other folks leave the head on, and place the tentacles in a heavy enameled pot just big enough for it. Err on a little smaller pot so there is less place for the juices to spread out as it did in the photo up top. Put the pot over medium heat and when it starts boiling lower the heat to a simmer and keep that simmering for 45-60 minutes until the octopus is quite tender.
I don’t add salt, water, aromatics, etc. In this iteration, the octopus was brilliantly tender in about 45 minutes.
Let it cool in it’s own liquid. Before cooking, remove from it’s liquid, season with olive oil, lemon juice, red pepper flakes and some salt and pepper. Prepare a roaring charcoal fire and grill the octopus until it is slightly charred and crisp on the edges.
Slice and add to a bracing salad of slightly bitter arugula greens, some semi-dried tomatoes, and a vinaigrette dressing. Alternatively you could season it with salt, pepper and paprika fry it in lard until just crisp on the outside but hopefully still tender on the inside.