My local fishmonger stocks these nearly 2 lb. octopuses on a rotating basis. Every so often, I timidly ask “Is that octopus popular?” or “Have you ever cooked one?” I recently decided I better dive in and prepare one. The beauty is in the process – the salt massage, the slow hot water poaching and the eventual laying out to drain and chill.
3-Step Octopus Prep:
Step #1: Rub the octopus down with sea salt, massaging well into all the nooks and crannies to season. This bit feels pretty slippery and supple. Rinse well to remove the excess.
Step #2: Place your seasoned octopus into a big pot. Fill with cold water and add 1 tablespoon of whole white peppercorns. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a rolling simmer, uncovered, for 45-55 minutes, until octopus can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife.
Step #3: Drain octopus and place on inverted bowl so the tentacles hang down. The octopus is no longer slippery and supple, but rather stiff and rubbery. Place the bowl in a larger bowl, cover with plastic wrap (I used aluminum foil to not freak out my family) and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
The octopus is one of the most elusive sea creatures with skin cells that change color to camouflage with its changing environment. It’s the most intelligent invertebrate, having the highest brain-to-body mass ratio. I certainly didn’t need to learn this just as I was about to boil this clever fellow. Tomorrow I will give him some new colors by spicing him up with a homemade Tandoori rub. For now, my elusive octopus is chilling in the refrigerator until tomorrow’s octopus encounter.