Tag Archives: octopus

Octopus – Version 2

My first direct octopus experience paved the way for a second the very next night (Sunday). A substantial half of the octopus remained in the fridge for use… (a 3kg octopus feeds around 9 people as a main course, fyi!)

Mandy had some reservations regarding the initial look of dinner in its uncooked state (she is the unlucky friend I invited to join us). ;-)

All turned out well, however.

We had a jolly time manning the barbeque, Dad, Mandy and me, cooking zucchini and eggplant slices, mushrooms, veal with lemon & herbs, and of course, the octopus (recipe courtesy Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”):

#45 Grilled Octopus with Oregano – Page 88

This required barbequing the octopus whole, then cutting it into smaller chunks, quickly pouring a simple dressing over it, and serving it immediately.

When we finally sat down to dinner, we were in for a pleasant surprise too – Dad’s rosemary & raisin bread… which I would have been happy melting into for the rest of the year. Yes, it was bloody delicious.

Thoughts on cooking octopus: watching octopus cook is pretty spectacular – it’s almost like watching a sunrise, as the grey slowly brightens up by several shades until it is a beautiful rosy pink. It’s easy to cook, and doesn’t take too long.

Thoughts on eating octopus: it is nice and sweet even on its own, a spectacular variety of seafood. Its appearance can be a little unsettling though, if you stare too long at the tentacles…

I really like both of these recipes from Tessa’s book!

I forgot to bring my camera USB cable back with me, so pictures will have to wait…… I will upload them when I can!

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I never dreamed I would cook Octopus

The family, that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor in our innermost hearts ever quite wish to.
~ Dodie Smith

Oh, man.

Dad held it up with a big pair of tongs, and together we slid it into a strong plastic bag. Slimy, sticky and big, the slippery mass smelled of the sea, and reminded me of… well, aliens and sea monsters. Fictional aliens with oval heads and slit eyes. Loch Ness. A giant squid chewing on innocent sailors. Half dazed, I marched up to the counter with the octopus (3kg, $38). The cashier looked a little surprised too but she smiled and told me it would be delicious.

Hours later, as the sunlight waned, I worked in the now dim kitchen; imagining my Grandma as a young girl, sitting by the porridge pot. I thought about all the women around the world who spend hours cooking on a daily basis. I thought of full and empty tummies. And yes, I thought a little bit about aliens, though I scarcely ever do. ;-)

The 800g of onions I peeled for this dish demanded my tears.

My fingers jerked with shock and slight repulsion as I worked with the octopus on the chopping board (reasons I could never be a surgeon).

Once I started cooking though, did it smell good, oh yes, yes it did! It was wonderful inhaling all the rich goodness of cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaves, chilli, red wine, red wine vinegar, garlic, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, mixed spice… the flavour seemed to wrap around the air like a tight red dress; leaving you no room to breathe, but in a gorgeous breathtaking way. While the octopus cooked, I sipped green tea and read more of Amy Tan’s “Saving Fish from Drowning”, drowning a little myself in the good smell…

The final meal I shared with my parents made it all (crying over onions, worrying over octopus dissection, etc) so terribly worthwhile. (They really enjoyed it too).

If you’re after a wonderful and distinctive meal, you will find it in this recipe from Tessa Kiros’ “Falling Cloudberries”:
#44 Octopus Stifado (Octopus with Onions & Red Wine) – Page 97

Modifications: I modified the recipe slightly for quantity (I only cooked half the octopus as well) and substituted pimento berries (which I couldn’t find) with mixed spice powder. I also added 4 extra cloves of garlic to what the recipe suggested.

I served it with a light salad and toasted hot cross buns. (We didn’t eat much of the salad… the octopus and bread were way filling!)

Salad ingredients: mesclun leaves, 5 cherry tomatoes – halved, 1 pear – sliced, juice of half a lemon, zest of half a lemon, some cucumber – sliced, 2 twists of black pepper.