Octopus as a dish, may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of summer inspiration. Typically found on high end restaurant menus, it can be a bit daunting to prepare-either because of those squiggly tentacles, or perhaps that beak, reminding you of those childhood nightmares from watching Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.
Executive Chef Paul Jiminez at Local 92 says octopus is one of his favorites for summer. “It’s a beautiful summer dish, because it’s light, and in season, and it goes really well with bright citrus and acidic flavors. So, not only is it light and healthier for the summer months, but it can be topped simply with lemon and lime juice and/or a nice light vinegar, both being really great flavor profiles for summer, which means there is no need for heavy sauces.”
How to Buy Octopus
Believe it or not, frozen octopus is easier to cook than fresh, as the freezing and thawing process assist in tenderizing the meat, and will make it less likely to turn rubbery and hard. Be sure to plan at least one pound per guest, as it will shrink a good amount during cooking.
Octopus Prep: Removing the Beak
If your octopus still has the ‘beak’ attached (center of the body, between the legs), turn it upside down, and cut it out, as if coring an apple or a tomato. Yes, it looks like a bird beak, but the process is actually quite easy.
How to Cook Octopus: Slower is Better
Chef Paul’s technique below is somewhat of a poaching style, although there are many ways to cook octopus (beating it over a rock, cooking it with wine corks in the water, beating it with root vegetables, etc). The slow boil method usually works best, after which you can sear, grill, or fry it to your liking. Below, Chef Paul shared his favorite octopus recipe with us for summer-a Spanish octopus dish with summery spaghetti squash, and pureed leeks. Head Sommelier, Daniele Mazzella, recommends pairing it with a crisp, cold Prosecco, or a dry, slightly effervescent Riesling, to complement the ‘flatness’ in the seafood.
Find Chef Paul’s Mediterranean inspired dishes at Local 92, located at 92 Second Avenue, NY NY 10003, and a preview of their menu on their website.
by Chef Paul Jiminez
Ingredients needed for the Octopus:
- 1 whole Spanish octopus
- 4-6 lb whole Spanish Octopus
- 2 sticks celery
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 5 bay leave
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lemon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 rosemary sprig
How to make the Octopus:
Step 1: Use a large pot and fill it up with cold water. Add all ingredients to the water and cook to boil. Once boiling, cook for approximately 1 hour until the octopus is tender (do NOT over cook). Take out the octopus and let it rest in room temp for 20 minute, separating the legs from the head.
Step 2: Sear the octopus with butter and garlic in a hot pan until you get a nice roast color on both sides. Season with salt, pepper and rosemary.
Ingredients for the Spaghetti Squash:
- 1 Spaghetti squash
- 1 stick rosemary
- 1 pc bay leaf
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 3 cups water water
- 6 sundried tomatoes
- 1 tsp pine nuts
- 1 tsp butter
- 2 tsp EVOO
How to make Spaghetti squash:
Step 1: Cut the spaghetti squash in half and put it in a container with water, rosemary, sea salt and black pepper and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in the oven on 350 degrees for 25 min. Let it cool down and use a fork to pull out the spaghetti squash from his shell.
Ingredients for Leek Emulsion:
- 1 bunch leek
- 1 bunch partly
- 1 clove garlic
- 1-cup butter
- 1-cup white wine
- sea salt
- black pepper
How to make leek emulsion: Cut the leek into 1 inch pieces and cook it in a pot with the butter, wine and water for 20 minute until the leeks are soft. Pour all pot ingredients in vita prep blender add the parsley salt and pepper to flavor and blend.
Place the leeks emulsion on the bottom of the plate and decorate with spaghetti squash and play around with the roasted octopus, use some fried kale chips for garnish and drizzle extra virgin olive oil
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