A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Over Your Fear of Octopus
- to Up Your Nerve to Buy the Octopus
- 1: Round 1: Here Comes the ‘Beak’ Part
- to find smack in the middle of all those legs. You can’t miss it, says Saffitz. It actually looks like a bird’s beak. Take a paring knife and slice around the beak, pushing it through to pop out the other side, as if coring a tomato.
Adapted from bonappetit.com
Cooking Round 1: The Slow Cook
“There are so many different theories about how to keep octopus tender and not rubbery or tough—beating it over a rock in Greece, or massaging it with salt and whacking it with a daikon radish in Japan,” says Evans. “But I learned my trick at Craft in New York City. The Italians swear by it: When slow-cooking in wine, put the actual wine cork in the braising liquid to cook along with the octopus. It’s one of those tricks that no one can explain, but your octopus will come out super tender.”
If that sounds a little too voodoo, Saffitz says not to worry. “All these myths about keeping it tender—just cook it ’til it’s tender!” (Evan suggests about 13 minutes per pound.) But she does have one tip of her own: Dip the octopus tentacles in the hot poaching broth three times before submerging, and the tentacles will curl up all fancy and restaurant-y as they cook.
Prep Round 2: Cool and Remove Skin
Let cool completely while still in the poaching liquid to keep the meat tender and saturated with flavor. Once cool, remove the skin by rubbing it with a paper towel; it should come off easily. Keep those suckers. When finishing on the grill, that’s what will get nice and crispy, advises Evans. Removing them would dry the octopus out. If the suckers come off on their own, that means you’ve cooked it too long, but all is not lost. Just take care to keep the tentacles intact while rubbing.
Cooking Round 2: The Sear
Now that the inside is nice and tender, you want a deep char on the outside. Sear or grill the tentacles whole, about 8 minutes per side, or sliced thin, about 2 minutes per side. The rough flesh will caramelize nicely.