How to Prepare Octopus

20151225_103741Since this blog’s title has something to do with never graduating (in a way that implies always learning)…I thought I’d try a new type of post: “How to (fill in the blank)” [which I’d like to think at this point is slightly different than a recipe post]

When I choose to go out to eat (i.e., when I’m not traveling for work and am forced to go out to eat) I try to avoid ordering dishes that I know how to make. Consequently, I rarely go out to eat and when I do it’s pricey.

There is, however, an exception to every rule and I have now found my exception to this rule: octopus. While not that challenging I would much rather pay someone else to prepare this sucker (pun intended).

Most fresh octopus that you can buy here in the States comes from Portugal or Italy; however, I have a sneaking suspicion the idea of octopus as food actually originated in either Colombia or Thailand. Why? Because you’d have to be jacked up on coke or something worse to see one of these creatures and think, “Yeah. I could eat that.”

During this process I was torn between making references to Jules Verne and Ridley Scott. A raw octopus feels kinda like raw liver, but with suction cups. VERY trippy. Even after you start cutting, you feel like the creature is still alive. It’s just not worth it. Maybe once in your life, just to say you’ve done it. But otherwise, pay the $10-20 (depending upon the restaurant) to have someone else do this.

Still, here is how you clean and cook an octopus.

  1.  An octopus has three parts to its body: (1) tentacles, (2) a band with its eyes, and (3) the rest of its head. Separate parts (1) and (3) from part (2). Discard (2) immediately before you freak yourself out even more.
  2. With the tentacles, the center of the eight legs will contain a beak. It is hard and curved like an actual bird’s beak. Push it out, or cut the whole thing out. Regardless, there should be a small hole now (through which you can see) in the center of the Trivial Pursuit wheel that is an octopus.
    This is a beak.
    This is a beak.

    Post de-beaking
    Post de-beaking
  3. The rest of the head is where it gets gnarly. There are two things left to do. First, invert the head (literally turn the whole thing inside out) and scoop out the insides (which now are outside). Rinse it off under cold water. Then, invert again and remove the outer layer of “skin”.

    Removing the skin.
    Removing the skin.
  4. Boil a pot of water. Using tongs, take the tentacles, dip them in the boiling water, count to “three”, and remove. The tentacles will–remarkably quickly–start to curl. It is creepy, I’m not completely sure why it’s a necessary step, but just trust me. Do this octopus toe-dipping a few times. Then, place the tentacles and the head in the pot, put a lid on it and set the timer for 45 minutes [at least for the octopus of starting size photographed].
    Pre-dip
    Pre-dip
    After 1 dip
    After 1 dip

    20151225_110720

  5. After the octopus has cooked (use a knife test, similar to the knife test you use when baking), remove from the water. There will be some additional skin on the tentacles you have not yet removed–you can actually do that now very quickly and easily by rubbing the tentacles with a paper towel. Regardless, cut into bite-sized pieces and enjoy.

    Done
    Done
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2 thoughts on “How to Prepare Octopus

  1. i had a cooking job once where this was the first thing that i had to deal with. it was already blanched (they used a different method) but i had to peel it and such. i’m not a fan of this or squid as something to eat (I can’t eat things that are very chewy)…but I agree that it’s something everyone should know how to do. I’m still waiting for a way to cook/eat the stuff that works for me.

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