Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Octopus: NYTimes Minimalist style

Having tasted something rather similar in Madrid, my gf and I wanted to try out the NYTimes Minimalist octopus recipe (Accompanying Article/Video). If you're squeamish with slimy things, you might want to pass this over; otherwise, here's our adventures with octopus:

Buying the ingredients
Where the heck do you buy an octopus? We had no idea. Hunting around the internet, we found a few close-by fish markets and called them to see whether they had octopus. Eventually we settled on City Fish, where they had a frozen 4 lb octopus. Later on, we found that Price Chopper Supermarket also has non-frozen octopus in their seafood department, so I guess octopus is more commonly available than we thought.

Another issue: smoked pimenton. I called around and no one said they had this. Turns out that it's more commonly referred to as Smoked (Spanish) paprika and is fairly available. I picked ours up from DiBruno's back in Phil:

So first things first - defrosting the tentacled ice block. We put the thing into a big ol pot with water and waited. And waited. And waited. This thing took awhile to defrost - a couple of hours. But slowly, the ice block started to take octopus form:

Oh boy, I think a couple glasses of wine will help ease our brief bouts of squeamishness.

In actuality, seeing the octopus so closely was kind of neat. Visually, the entire body had a rather lovely transluscence and really interesting markings, particularly the tiger stripes on the tentacles and pigments on the main body:

I'm not sure why, but it was nice to see how the octopus worked, before cooking and eaiting it. (i.e. how the suckers still stuck to your fingers. Or how the winged parts between the tentacles would provide drag in the water akin to fish fins.)

But enough waxing poetic. Defrosted, we realized just how big a 4 lb octopus really was. Would we be able to finish this? If we couldn't, would it taste okay after freezing? I don't know, but let me take a tourist picture with the octopus first:

Okay, let's get down to cooking it. Cut up the potatoes.

To make things slightly more appealing, we cut off the tentacles like the Minimalist did (cut the wings up to the head and then slice the tentacles off). And yup, we counted 8 tentacles, unlike 6 legged Henry Hexapus. Since we're adventurous eaters, we decided to keep the head and the ends of the tentacles. Okay, let's put these guys in a bowl and wait for our pot of salted water to boil.

We then dropped the octopus in and boiled it for an hour. After making sure we could poke through the octopus cleanly with a knife, we dropped the potatoes in, let everything boil for another half hour and we're done. Our concerns with eating the entire octopus were significantly nullified at this point, as the octopus had indeed shrunk a lot.

(We're not sure why the octopus comes out black - perhaps the pigment? And no, that's not the octopus ink.) We added olive oil and our fancy-shmancy smoked Spanish paprika:

And voila, we have our dish:

Serve it with some stuffed olives and some salad and you've got a light and tasty meal that you could get in Europe.

($Cooking, $News)


  1. Love the picture of you holding the octopus up out of the pot. Just recently fround you through FoodBuzz, and I'll be visiting frequently.

  2. Thanks for visiting, e. I think taking a picture was one of those things that you had to do in that situation. I mean how often do you have a 3 foot octopus in front of you?