Octopus is an ingredient that it took us a while to warm up to, but during our travels in Italy, we’ve noticed that in the Mediterranean it’s almost as common as chicken. The best octopus we can get here arguably comes from Spain, so it does have to travel to get here. It’s also admittedly not very appetizing when you see it raw, and we could see why some people would be squeamish about it (Clayton used to be).
We recently received sample packs of baby Spanish octopus (c/o) from our friends at Water2Table fish company and they were nothing short of amazing. Octopus is probably the one instance where freezing a product makes it better to cook with later. The freezing and thawing helps naturally tenderize the meat.
The octopus we tried was caught in Spain (beware of octopus from other regions where fishing is not regulated), frozen for the transatlantic journey and arrived in Brooklyn at Octopus Garden, where they were tenderized in a special process done with salt slush. Then they were frozen again for the journey to California.
Many recipes suggest boiling octopus for a prolonged period of time to tenderize it, often with ingredients from Italian superstitions (pennies, corks). These octopus were so tender they just need to be boiled to cook through (12-15 minutes, this pot) and are ready to cool and use however you like. You do need to get the skin off, which is easy. Just rub the octopus with paper towels and rinse under cool water. We keep a box of these gloves for tasks like this.
To make our grilled octopus salad, we cut the head off of the cooked and cleaned octopus and separated the tentacles using this knife. Then we tossed the tentacles in a mixture of our favorite all purpose olive oil and a teaspoon of smoked paprika and let it sit until ready to grill and add to a simple salad. When we use crushed red peppers, we always reach for our chili cruncher. It save us from a lot of burning eyes since we don’t have to touch the peppers!
We served our grilled octopus salad with an amazing Trousseau Gris from Jolie-Laide. For more simple and healthy seafood recipes be sure to check out this salad, this simple pasta, and this one pot calamari.
Speaking of octopus, how cool is this octopus art? We first saw it in a house in Chicago and have wanted one for ourselves ever since!
- 2 baby octopus, boiled 10-12 minutes, cooled, and skin removed
- 3 red potatoes, boiled separately until fork-tender
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Italian red chili, crushed
- ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for finishing
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 handful of flat parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
- lemon juice, for finishing
- Remove the heads from the octopus and separate the tentacles with a utility knife.
- Mix ¼ cup of olive oil with the smoked paprika and a little salt and pepper in a large ziplock bag. Add the octopus tentacles and keep refrigerated until ready to grill.
- Cut potatoes into bite size pieces, and toss in a bowl with olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and chili flakes. Meanwhile, heat a grill or grill pan.
- Grill the octopus tentacles for 2-3 minutes, until just charred and heated through. Remove from the grill and cut into bite size pieces and toss with the potato mixture. Drizzle with fresh squeezed lemon juice and serve at room temperature.