Our tests suggested it made little to no difference. That's about all you need. There are several ways to to do this, some faster and some slower. Humans have been boiling octopus for about as long as we've been eating it. Add the octopus, reduce the heat immediately and simmer gently for 45–60 minutes. Carefully but firmly pull out everything inside. It's right where the eight legs converge. As I've written before, a pressure cooker is an excellent way to speed up the cooking time of octopus. If you want to keep the skin intact, you're better off chilling the octopus after cooking it, which really does make it more resilient. In the Portuguese culture, many desire to fry octopus, or to make "polvo frito". Spoon the feta and chorizo mix into the 20 baby squid until three-quarters full 3. If you don't have fresh baby octopus you need to defrost the packaged frozen variety. But perhaps the realm where the octopus really vexes is in the kitchen. If you need to, use a sharp knife and steady hand, because I promise you, the raw octopus won't be steady for you. Prepare Octopus by Tenderizing the Meat An octopus being blanched Blanching an octopus, as with any other foodstuff, simply means dropping it into boiling water … A good dash of brandy adds a blast. They'll all get you there in the end. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (130 degrees Celsius). What it offers are reliably consistent, set-it-and-forget-it results that rival all the other methods in terms of quality. * While an animal’s intelligence shouldn’t be the only reason we try to protect them, it’s hard not to feel some likeness with such a clever creature. As mentioned above, it can help to set a more presentation-worthy shape if you dip the tentacles in simmering water first before vacuum-bagging them. Discard the head, and cut the tentacles into a few pieces. An easy three-step cooking method (blanching, marinating, then grilling) creates tender, crispy octopus drenched in a garlicky, herby marinade and dressing. A person couldn't be faulted for feeling a little lost about what to do with this particular physical form. Throughout Cyprus and the Greek islands octopus is served in a multitude of ways it is a ubiquitous aquatic creature featured on most Greek tables at one time or another. In almost all cases, the head itself will already be cleaned when you buy an octopus. The octopus will soon start sweating out a pink liquid. Add the octopus and cover with water. I tried out superstitious old techniques like the wine cork, as well as newer ones like sous vide. - Drop the octopus into a saucepan of unsalted boiling water or, better still, steam it. Medium-size octopus: If your octopus is not very large, around one kilogram or less, it may take around 30 minutes to boil. The cork trick is an old folk method that some chefs swear by. The oven rack should also be switched to the lower-middle … In a plastic bag or container with a tight-fitting lid, place the octopus, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, oregano, cloves, and garlic. I once worked on a farm in Galicia, Spain, which should immediately signal to octopus cognoscenti that I was in serious octopus country. As soon as that's done, it's ready to be served. Post whatever you want, just keep it seriously about eats, seriously. There, the farmer Vicente taught me to make one of the region's iconic dishes, pulpo gallego. Also give it a good rinse, since there's sometimes sand hiding there. … Cut head lengthwise and remove excess matter including the beak. Grilled octopus. Grill over the smoky fire, covered, for 3 minutes. Anatomically, an octopus is intimidating. You don't have to scrape it clean, but you also don't want to leave globs of innards behind. Plus, octopuses have repeatedly demonstrated escape-artist abilities; one even broke out of its enclosure and retreated through a drain pipe to the ocean. It's simple though: Do very little before cooking the octopus. The rich, meltingly tender taste of the marinated octopus mixed with the smoky taste of the grill makes believers out of skeptics. Let octopus cool in the cooking water. An octopus can camouflage itself and shape-shift in ways that sci-fi nerds only dream of. - After cooking, let it cool for a couple of hours. All products linked here have been independently selected by our editors. One easy option is to soak hickory sawdust overnight, dump it into a makeshift bowl made from heavy-duty foil, and place that on the grill. They are usually sold frozen (and pre-cleaned) here in the U.S. Octopus can be eaten raw (alive, even, assuming you don't find that inherently cruel), and it can also be prepared using quick-cooking methods like sautéing, though it's riskier to do that than with, say, squid, a related animal that starts out much more tender. There's northing wrong with this. Daniel cooked for years in some of New York's top American, Italian and French restaurants - starting at the age of 13, when he began staging at the legendary restaurant Chanterelle. How to cook an Octopus: Heat a pot or a sautéing pan with nothing inside. By trapping steam and raising the pressure inside the cooker, and therefore raising the boiling point of the water as well, you can cook octopus much more quickly than at a standard sea-level boil of 212°F (100°C). Some recipes say to remove the purple skin after cooking. Once your octopus is cooked to the point of being tender, you can serve it right away while still hot; chill it and then use it like that in cold preparations (I like it in seafood salads); or sear or grill the octopus to brown and crisp the exterior. Be careful with salt as it can quickly become aggressive on seafood that already has a natural salinity; you can add a tiny pinch, but be very sparing. If you have a gas or charcoal grill, it is vital that you add some kind of wood smoke. If you prefer, you can also use small squids for this recipe. Why cook at 160°F for 12 hours when 175°F gets you great results in less than half the time? I could have sought out the ideal cooking time for the 160°F sample (somewhere around 10 to 12 hours, probably), but I didn't see the point since I'd already zeroed in on a much better combination of temperature and time: 175°F for five hours. But there are still some ideas out there about how to make it work better. I didn't try all of them—massaging the tentacles with salt for 20 minutes, which is what sushi chefs do, is needlessly laborious unless you're a sushi chef. Octopus can be eaten braised, you can roast octopus, or serve chilled. ), Pulpo Gallego: A Galician-Style Octopus Tapa, Greek Marinated Octopus in Oil and Vinegar, The 10 Best Grilling Cookbooks to Read in 2020. - A quick way of serving cooked octopus? Gather the ingredients. I ran tests at 140, 160, 175, 180, and 185°F (60, 71, 79, 82, and 85°C), testing the samples at five hours, eight hours, and 24 hours. If you see something not so nice, please, report an inappropriate comment. The octopus cooked at 140 and 160°F were still chewy even after 8 hours; by 24 hours, the 140°F sample was good while the 160°F sample had turned to an unpleasant mush. An octopus tentacle in a pot of cold water, to test a cold-start cooking method. The big debate on how to tenderise an octopus, how to cook an octopus without it being tough. Most octopus you buy from a fish counter will have previously been frozen, or still is. [Photograph: Vicky Wasik]. Baby octopus is naturally tender and easy to handle. (At Serious Eats, we use "octopuses."). Compared to an un-beaten tentacle from the same octopus cooked for the same amount of time in the same pot of water, I was unable to detect any difference in texture, tenderness, or cooking time. Here is … I've never had a reason not to follow his instructions, but for this article I tested it. The olive oil seemed unnecessary as well; it added a pleasant flavor, but one that you can just as easily add later with fresh olive oil after the octopus has come out of the bag. Octopus is a favorite and common food in the Mediterranean, Asian, Portuguese, and Hawaiian cuisines. Rinse octopi in running water. [Photograph: Liz Clayman]. Cook enough octopus, though, and all of this becomes obviously silly. They have a complex and decentralized nervous system that allows each individual limb to register senses and make decisions independently. The traditional way to tenderise the meat is to hurl it against rocks; an easier method is to simmer it for an hour. Clean and prepare 20 baby squid 3. Some HTML is OK: link, strong, em. It might work if you whale at it hard and long enough, but you'll likely sooner damage your countertop or get a call from your neighbors asking you to please stop being such an a-hole. (Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. The results bolstered my suspicion that a cork is little more than a psychological crutch to give nervous cooks a boost in confidence. The starting temperature of the water didn't have any effect either, with the octopus coming out the same no matter whether it was in the pot as the water heated up or went in after the water was simmering. It's really no different than stewing gristly chunks of beef in a stew; eventually they become soft and tender. It might even help: The ice crystals that form in the flesh can create micro-lacerations that help tenderize it. He showed me how to dip the octopus three times in the simmering water before lowering it in for the duration of cooking. You just have to thaw and prepare it. A beak? How you determine those two variables depends on the cooking method. (The string was used to distinguish different testing samples in the same pot.) In addition to temps and times, I also experimented with adding salt and olive oil to the bags. We may earn a commission on purchases, as described in our affiliate policy. [Photograph: Vicky Wasik]. An octopus is a mollusk, more specifically a cephalopod along with squid and cuttlefish. The kind of people who remove that are the same ones who pull the paper-thin brown and crisp skin off roast chicken and push it to the side of their plate. He claimed this helped set the fragile purple skin to prevent it from falling off later. This does introduce a small amount of risk. Remove the tentacles and take out the innards — but leave the tube of the body intact, Richard Corrigan instructs on the BBC website. There are those eight tentacles covered in suckers, radiating out from the floppy head; two small eyes; and a beak. Let the bowl sit in the refrigerator all day or until the octopus is completely thawed. The answer: nothing, at least nothing that I noticed. Okay, we're gonna cook the octopus, and first we're gonna boil it. In all my years cooking octopus in restaurants I'd never noticed a difference, but I still needed to test it more methodically. It's a great seafood dish to prepare when the weather gets hot. How long that takes depends on the octopus itself; different varieties and different individuals will be different sizes and have varying collagen levels, all of which will change exactly how long it takes. Perhaps there's a particular kind of cork that does something helpful to speed things up, or perhaps I needed to add more than one cork to my pot. He has expertise in wild foods and has written over 1,000 recipes. Place the octopus in the bowl, and refrigerate the octopus in the brine for five hours to break down muscle tissue. Keep in mind, though, that a pressure cooker is a black box: Once it's sealed and at pressure, there's no way to check the status of what's inside until you depressurize and open it. Cook the Octopus. For those curious, the samples cooked at 180°F and above were overcooked and inedible even at the five-hour mark. We explore a variety of methods for cooking octopus, including using sous vide, a pressure cooker, and simmering it on the stovetop for perfectly cooked tentacles every time. In case you’re wondering, unlike the name suggests, baby octopus is fully grown octopus of a small species. Hank Shaw is a James Beard Award-winning food writer and author of four cookbooks. Massage it periodically during the marinating phase. It's also easier to cut the octopus up into parts (individual or groupings of tentacles, plus the head) before bagging, otherwise the sprawling shape of the octopus can make it difficult to get all the air out of the bag. Pounding raw octopus with a meat tenderizer didn't affect cooking time. If you can find fresh octopus it’s best to freeze it for 10-15 days. We reserve the right to delete off-topic or inflammatory comments. Dig around to make sure nothing major was left behind. You'll know the octopus is tender when you can slide a paring knife into its flesh with little resistance. You should begin with the tentacles. White wine of course - don't forget to keep some aside for the baby octopus recipe! If you're wondering whether I'm implying that octopus should only be prepared using a lengthy cooking method, I mostly am, though there are exceptions. Comments can take a minute to appear—please be patient! Cooking time will vary based on size: For baby octopi, try them after 2 hours. For that reason, the best way to prepare octopus is to slow-cook it, like a pot roast, until the connective tissues soften and break down. [Photograph: Liz Clayman]. When it's done, you can chill the octopus in the bags, opening them once you're ready to proceed. Simmer it in water or broth until it is fork-tender, usually two hours or less, or slow-cook it without broth in its own juices. Then, cover with a … Don't be scared off by the fact that this Greek dish requires whole baby octopus. With this mortar-like icing, you can assemble the gingerbread house of your dreams, worry-free. As such, hold the octopus by its body – with the tentacles dangling – and dip the tentacles into the boiling water. If the pressure cooker is the fast lane of octopus cookery and a pot on the stovetop is the cruising lane, using a sous vide setup with an immersion circulator is a leisurely country drive. Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil. There's nothing hard or mysterious about it, you just need enough heat in combination with enough time to make an octopus tender. Learn the magic of turning flour, butter, eggs, and water into pastry balloons. Or, just season after. You can either cut off the heads, or if you choose to retain them: Make a shallow cut along the head, being careful not to cut too deep and puncture the innards. Move the tentacles up and down in the boiling water until they curl. You could possibly undercook the octopus, in which case you'd have to simmer it longer or return the cooker to pressure for another few minutes; or, worse, you could overcook your octopus. When not working on, thinking about, cooking and eating food, he blows off steam (and calories) as an instructor of capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial art. Below are the keys to success. Even easier, grab a good pair of kitchen shears. In a plastic bag or container with a tight-fitting lid, place the octopus, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, oregano, cloves, and garlic. You can cut up an octopus before cooking it, though in most cases cooking it whole and cutting it after is easier (sous vide is one exception to this). At her NYC chocolate shop Stick With Me Sweets, Susanna Yoon (formerly of Per Se) makes edible miniature works of art. Fire up the grill. All my octopus samples reached tenderness in the same amount of time—about one hour—and I couldn't spot a lick of difference among them. Baby octopuses: These small octopuses are easier to boil, and they only take 5 to 10 minutes. Boiling water, and we wanna flavor the water. The skin and the gelatinous, almost fatty layer under it are some of the best parts of the octopus. It's a good thing if some of the herbs or garlic from the marinade sticks to the octopus, but not essential. When searing and grilling, it's a good idea to chill the cooked octopus first, a step that sets the skin and keeps it from sloughing off during the secondary cooking. Before cooking the octopus, it will be important to wash it well with cold water to remove any dirt or … Just look at the crazy things people have done in pursuit of tender tentacles: beating the poor beasts against rocks, tossing wine corks in the pot with the hope they'll work some dark magic, even dropping the cephalopods in washing machines and running the spin cycle. Discard head of regular octopus, then cut body and tentacles into 2-inch pieces; follow baby- octopus cooking procedure (above), but simmer about 1 1/2 hours rather than 45 minutes. Even if there is some effect I managed not to detect, an octopus will still become tender with or without a cork. Get our cookbook, free, when you sign up for our newsletter. While the grill is heating, skewer the little octopi. Ink sacs, slimy blobs, unidentifiable stuff that you can pull out. While a shorter cooking time undoubtedly would work at each of those temperatures, at that point you might as well just simmer them on the stovetop since the cooking times and results will be similar and the setup is easier. While blanching doesn't help with the skin, it acts like a curling iron for octopus, setting the limp tangle of tentacles into graceful twirls. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest recipes and tips! What's major? a pressure cooker is an excellent way to speed up the cooking time of octopus, Sturdy Royal Icing for Gingerbread Houses, Breadmaking 101: All About Proofing and Fermentation, The Food Lab's Complete Guide to Sous Vide Lobster, The Food Lab's Definitive Guide to Buying and Cooking Hams. Again, the main difference will be that your cooked octopus will be ready to prepare the way you like it. Serve while still hot with lemon wedges on the side. Yeah, a beak. When the pot is hot enough, put the tentacles and sac in the pot. Using either a knife or kitchen shears, remove each tentacle from the octopus head. Another great way to prepare octopus, for a complete meal: Mediterranean Octopus Stew with Elbow Macaroni Enjoy. 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