You’ve all put up with me lamenting about the fact that, living in the middle of the United States, with no nearby coastline, I can’t buy fresh seafood. And it’s pretty much my favorite thing to eat, over beef and poultry.
I make up for it when on vacation, especially when it comes to squid and octopus. I eat them until tentacles are practically coming out my ears.
Besides being delicious, they’re fascinating creatures.
Instead of whining, I decided it was time to just order some frozen baby octopus. I actually see it frozen occasionally in recipes, so I’m not the only person who can’t always buy it fresh, or wants it out of season.
The company I ordered from is La Tienda, a Spanish website that I’ve used for years. Just about any Spanish product you desire, they sell.
It was a fluke that I found frozen octopus; I didn’t expect La Tienda to have it. I also bought some frozen cuttlefish at the same time – something I’d never tried before – at least not knowingly.
When I received the pound of baby octopus, there were only two, so about 8 ounces each, shown above. I expected baby octopuses to look like ones I’ve had on salads or seen at markets.
But it gave me the opportunity to learn how to break down an octopus. It’s a very straight-forward procedure, and takes minutes.
Herby Octopus Salad with Blueberries
Cause it’s still summer here….
1 pound frozen baby octopus, thawed
Greens of choice
Chopped basil, parsley, and cilantro, about 1/2 cup total
Fresh blueberries, about 1/2 cup
Lemon juice (I used 1 lemon for 1 pound of octopus)
Olive juice, to taste
Aleppo pepper, optional
Rinse the octopus well and lay on a cutting board. Admire it, because it’s a beautiful sea creature!
Slice just below the eyes, and just above the eyes and discard this middle piece.
Then get rid of the beak in the middle of the tentacles.
Turn the head, or hood, inside out. Pull out everything from inside, and discard.
Turn the hood back to outside-in. There is a thin skin covering the hood that can be removed by pulling firmly.
Cut the tentacles off at the very top.
Trim the base of the hood, then slice the remaining hood into 1/4″ thick slices.
With the remaining center “upper thighs”, if you will, cut them each into 8 pie pieces.
From the left, the legs, the hood, and the upper thighs.
The below photo shows the legs at the top, the hood rings in the middle, and the thighs at the bottom.
Rinse the octopus parts, if necessary, then dry them well.
Heat some olive oil in a skillet. Over high heat and with your vent on, and perhaps a few open doors and windows, sear some of the octopus, without crowding it in the skillet, until browned. I cooked the legs, rings, and thighs separately, just because of the various thicknesses.
Remove to a plate and continue in batches; set aside.
Meanwhile, place the greens on a platter or plate.
In a small bowl, toss together the herbs and top the salad with the herbs.
Add the octopus parts, still warm, and the blueberries to the salad.
Drizzle on some fresh lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle on a little salt.
If desired, add some Aleppo pepper for some zing!
And that’s it! The octopus was superb. All it takes is a little searing.
A simple combination of lemon juice and olive was wonderful. And the blueberries added fruitiness. The salad would also be good with warmed lentils.
I was very happy about the quality of the frozen octopus. It wasn’t old or water-logged.
At least I know now that I don’t need to turn up my nose at frozen octopus in the future. I will indeed be ordering it again.
I just have to find someone else to share it with…
And anyone who assumes that octopus is tough and rubbery, hasn’t tried it. (husband)