Food & Drink Magazine

Succulent Octopus & Potato Salad ~ Put a Cork in It!

By Weavethousandflavors

Octopus and potato salad -04
It is impossible to turn a corner in Italy and not bump into a marvelous octopus and potato salad. Cooked right, the octopus beats every preconception of a tough flesh and is of a melt-in-the-mouth softness.

And though this remains one of my favorite ways of eating octopus, it does however pose quite a challenge here in the U.S.

For one, I can hardly find fresh raw octopus on sale. Ask an Italian or  Greek how to cook an octopus and the variations are varied though both cultures speak animatedly about flaying the poor octopus on a rock at least 150 times!

Thankfully, I have been saved the prospect of aimlessly wandering my urban streets in search of a rock on which to flay the poor creature.

Octopi are cephalopods (not fish or shellfish) and if there is one thing I am most grateful to Mario Batali for, is writing at length on the subject of cooking cephalopods in his books in which he states that the secret to succulent octopus is this -

Gently simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour in salted water on with a wine cork!

That's it! Turns out, the enzymes in the cork work in some fashion and help tenderize the octopus. Though it may not be an impressive explanation, it's good enough for me as long as it leaves me to happily eat my succulent octopus. What about you?

There are a couple of things to bear in mind though, I do not recommend that you buy frozen octopus.In my experience it is quite tough once cooked.

If you cannot find fresh octopus, I have found much success with using Sushi grade, precooked, frozen octopus from the Asian market. It might be sacrilegious to purists, but unless I can find fresh bounty of octopus, a girl's got to do, what a girl's got to do!

And once you've got those wonderful morsels of octopus laved in olive oil and lemon juice sharing the plate with warm cooked potatoes, Kalamata olives, parsley and sweet red onions, I doubt you'll be thinking of much else anyway.

Octopus and potato salad -02

Gather the ingredients,

 1/2 lb cooked, Sushi grade Octopus tentacles (defrosted if frozen) - if octopus is raw clean and see note above. Octopus is cooked once a fork easily come out when pierced,1/2 lb waxy Yukon gold potatoes, 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, 1/2 small Spanish red onion (to yield 1/4 cup thinly sliced),1/3 cup packed parsley leaves, 2 garlic cloves, peeled, 1/4 cup olive oil, Juice of 1-1/2 lemon &  1/4 tsp salt

Octopus and potato salad -collage01

Potatoes: Immerse in water and add 1 tbs salt. Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes until tender and easily pierced with a knife. Once cool enough to handle peel the potatoes. Quarter and cut into 1/2" thick pieces.

Octopus: Cut into 1/2" thick circles and then cut down the middle.

Red onion: Get rid off the ends,discard skin and quarter. Cut into thin quarter-circles.

Parsley: Wash and finely chop. Set aside until ready to use. 

Garlic - Crush the garlic and finely chop.

Octopus and potato salad -collage02

In a large bowl, add the octopus pieces, olives, cooked potatoes, parsley and red onions.

In a small bowl, add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and garlic. Whisk to combine.

Pour over the octopus salad. Toss so the dressing thoroughly coats the salad.

Set aside for 1 hour at room temperature. Serve immediately.

Cook's Note: Does not refrigerate well since the potatoes turn mealy.

Octopus and potato salad -01

 

Recipe for

Succulent Octopus & Potato Salad

Preparation time - 10 minutes (not including cooking octopus)

Marination time -1 hour 

Appetizer sized servings: 4

Shopping list  

1/2 lb cooked, Sushi grade Octopus tentacles (defrosted if frozen) - if octopus is raw clean and see note above. Octopus is cooked once a fork easily come out when pierced.

1/2 lb waxy Yukon gold potatoes

1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

1/2 small Spanish red onion (to yield 1/4 cup thinly sliced)

1/3 cup packed parsley leaves

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1/4 cup olive oil

Juice of 1-1/2 lemon

1/4 tsp salt

Preparation: 

Potatoes: Immerse in water and add 1 tbs salt. Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes until tender and easily pierced with a knife. Once cool enough to handle peel the potatoes. Quarter and cut into 1/2" thick pieces.

Octopus: Cut into 1/2" thick circles and then cut down the middle.

Red onion: Get rid off the ends,discard skin and quarter. Cut into thin quarter-circles.

Parsley: Wash and finely chop. Set aside until ready to use. 

Garlic - Crush the garlic and finely chop.

Method:

In a large bowl, add the octopus pieces, olives, cooked potatoes, parsley and red onions.

In a small bowl, add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and garlic. Whisk to combine.

Pour over the octopus salad. Toss so the dressing thoroughly coats the salad.

Set aside for 1 hour at room temperature.

Enjoy!

 


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