24 September 2012

Baby Octopus salad

This is such a simple recipe. You can either ask your fishmonger to clean the octopus for you or you can clean it yourself. The eyes, the mouth parts and the innards need to be removed and the octopus has to be tenderised prior to cooking. 

Tenderising the octopus is a bit of a lengthy process.  The fresh octopus is slapped repeatedly onto a hard surface.  At La Goulette fish market it is possible to see a man slapping an octopus on to the pavement adjacent to the fish market.  Once that is done the octopus is put into a plastic bag and is rubbed in a circular motion until it becomes foamy.  When buying fresh octopus make sure that it has been tenderised otherwise the octopus will be inedible and will be chewy like plastic.

I could not resist doing an artistic display prior to cooking this baby octopus.

Wash the cleaned and tenderised octopuses under cold running water and drain them.

Boil a pot of water, and to this add half a cup of either vinegar or white wine, 1 bay leaf, a couple of black pepper corns and 1 teaspoon of sugar.  Once the water has boiled, allow to simmer for 30 minutes.

Whilst the octopuses are simmering, you will note that the colour of the water will change and take on a reddish tinge.

Once the octopuses are simmering, you will have time to wash and chop the rest of your salad ingredients.  You will need half an onion, parsley, juice of 1 lemon, some lemon rind, olive oil and seasoning.  There are many variations of octopus salad, this is how we make it.

Once the octopuses have simmered for half an hour and are tender, you will need to drain them and then coarsely chop them into bite sized pieces.

Add the chopped octopuses to the rest of your salad ingredients and toss them lightly and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it.  If you like, you may garnish it with sprigs of parsley.

(It may interest you to know that the plural of octopus is either octopuses or octopodes). 


Humans eat octopus in many cultures. The arms and sometimes other body parts are prepared in various ways, often varying by species.
Octopus is a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine, including sushi, takoyaki, and akashiyaki.
In Korea, some small species are sometimes eaten alive as a novelty food. A live octopus is usually sliced up, and it is eaten while still squirming.

Octopus is eaten regularly in Hawaii, since many popular dishes are Asian in origin. Locally known by their Hawaiian or Japanese names (he'e and tako, respectively), octopus is also a popular fish bait.
Octopus is a common food in Mediterranean cuisine and Portuguese cuisine. In Galicia, polbo á feira (market fair style octopus) is a local delicacy. Restaurants which specialize or serve this dish are known as pulperías. On the Tunisian island of Djerba, local people catch octopuses by taking advantage of the animals' habit of hiding in safe places during the night. In the evening, they put grey ceramic pots on the sea bed. The morning of the following day they check them for octopuses sheltered there. A common scene in the Greek islands is octopuses hanging in the sunlight from a rope, just like laundry from a clothesline. They are often caught by spear fishing close to the shore. The fisherman brings his prey to land and tenderizes the flesh by pounding the carcass against a stone surface. Thus treated, they are hung out to dry, and later will be served grilled, either hot or chilled in a salad. They are considered a superb meze, especially alongside ouzo.

According to the USDA Nutrient Database (2007), cooked octopus contains about 139 kilocalories (Calories) per three-ounce portion, and is a source of vitamin B3, B12, potassium, phosphorus, and selenium.

Care must be taken to boil the octopus properly, to rid it of slime, smell, and residual ink.

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