The octopus, a very smart and also very tasty animal. Sucks being you buddy.
I’m not a chef by any stretch of the imagination, but I like to think I can hold my own in a kitchen. Though instances of guests puking in their mouths have thankfully been nonexistent (or unreported), there have been a few resounding fails in my culinary cavalcade, twice with octopus. I’m talking results out of a lovecraftian nightmare, stuff that no one dared to put in their mouth. Not even the ravens would touch it.
It was thus with some trepidation, and courage, that I decided to cook Wally, the octopus that had lived in our freezer for the last few months. After looking at multiple recipes, I aggregated what was universal and discarded the outliers. No boiling in vinegar and no dunking three times into boiling water. In fact, no boiling at all. It’s all about the simmer. Simmer time and the eating is easy…
Research concluded that all that was needed was an aromatic broth, a large splash of wine and some gentle simmering time. Sounds easy enough, how did I screw it up the previous times? Either in a hurry, or drunk, or both.
Onion chunks, garlic, bay leaves, a generous amount of salt (it is a creature of the sea after all), garlic, various Mediterranean spices that were lying about, some fresh rosemary, a carrot because why not, black pepper and enough white wine to make you forget about your worries.
I brought it up to a simmer and plopped Wally right into this aromatic spa.
Then it was duh, duhduh-duh, duhduh, duhduh simmer time! Can’t touch this (for two hours). Apparently not letting it boil keeps the octopus tender, recipes varied between 45 minutes and 2 hours of cooking time, I went with the latter because a) it is, according to a respected source, difficult to overcook octopus b) it’s when my wife came home.
As the front door opened I pulled Wally out, chopped up the tentacles into tantalizing bites, and dressed them with olive oil and some lime juice, as well as salt and freshly cracked pepper.
The result? Very very very tasty. I have to admit to feeling moderately proud of myself for this quite simple feat, it’s the little things in life, yeah?
Possible improvement: using a dryer (and better) white wine and also letting the octopus cool after cooking and then giving it a quick char for that grilled taste and texture. Next time.
Now I no longer fear the Kraken in the kitchen. Underwater might be a different story.