So when G brought home two enormous, slimy purple tentacles and announced his intent to cook them up, I was something between horrified and awe-struck. But soon I was googling away, and read about an octopus dish made at Le Bernardin, that temple of all things from the sea. It called for first braising the octopus in a rich chorizo broth, then marinating it in miso before being charring it to order. I don't know about you, but you could do that to a shoe and I would eat it.
G braised two whole tentacles in the veal stock with the chorizo until tender; this took longer than you would think. Then he slathered it with red miso and left it in the fridge overnight. (I tried not to look.) The next day he built a hot fire in the Weber, wiped the miso off the octopus (its high sugar content makes it burn) and gave it a nice char. We ate bites of it straight from the grill and it was pretty darned good. It's quite rich, and I think it would be best with a lemony vinaigrette of some sort and maybe a few white beans and/or some peppery greens. I may even roll out my own version this summer, when the grill is in full swing. Octopussy no more.
When the warm weather arrives (notice I said when and not if, eternal optimist that I am), this other preparation from Eric Ripert might be just the ticket for popping your octopus cherry. C'mon, be a man.
Octopus, Charred with Peach & Arugula
- — 1/2 small onion, peeled & quartered
- — 1 small celery stalk, sliced in the bias
- — 1/2 small carrot, peeled & sliced on the bias
- — One 3-ounce piece prosciutto
- — 2 sprigs Italian parsley
- — 3 cloves garlic, halved
- — 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
- — 8 cups water, approx.
- — 2 pounds octopus, head removed and tentacles separated
- — 2 tablespoons olive oil
- — Fine sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- — 1/2 cup baby arugula
- — 1 peach, halved, pitted & thinly sliced
- — 4 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar
- — 1 lemon, halved
Combine the onion, celery, carrot, prosciutto, parsley, garlic and cayenne pepper in a pot with about 8 cups of water. Season the water with salt and boil for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse. Add the octopus and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer gently for about 1 hour or until the octopus is tender when gently pierced with a knife. Cool the octopus in the braising liquid at room temperature until cool enough to handle.
Remove the octopus from the braising liquid and drain well. Heat a cast-iron skillet or a flat griddle over high heat until it is very hot. Season the octopus with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill the octopus until it is caramelized and crusted on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the charred octopus to a cutting board and cut each tentacle on the bias into 4 slices.
Place the octopus slices in the center of 4 plates and garnish with arugula and 3 to 4 slices of the peach. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of aged balsamic vinegar over and around the octopus, and finish each dish with a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve immediately.