How to Cook Tender Octopus
Seriously, there are so many crazy ways to cook tender octopus… from beating it on a rock to slamming it against the side of your sink (ten times no less) to boiling it with wine corks. Or you can massage the cephalopod vigorously with lots of salt until it froths then plunge him into a copper pot full of boiling water. Or you can roast him in a 200°F oven for five (!) hours. Or try my simple fool-proof method below, cooking time five (!) minutes.
The cooking method actually depends on the type of product with which you start. Here I begin with one pound of Frozen Cooked Spanish Octopus Tentacles (Pulpo Cocido) which is readily available and easy to prepare. This product can be found in the frozen seafood section of Whole Foods Market. Surprisingly, unlike other seafood, octopus’ texture might even benefit from the freezing process so fresh octopus in not considered to be superior.
The octopus is from the Eastern Central Atlantic Ocean, a product of Spain. It has already been cleaned; tentacles have been separated from the head. It was cooked with salt and bay leaves, then frozen. Keep it frozen until the day before use, then thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Place thawed tentacles in a pot and cover with fresh water. Bring the water to a boil then turn down immediately to a low simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the tentacles from the pot and let cool slightly on a platter so they can be sliced.
red chili flakes
marinara sauce (we love Rao’s)
kalamata olives, rinsed and halved lengthwise
high-quality fish sauce
octopus, cooked as above
parsley, rough chopped
pasta, we like bucatini
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add red chili flakes and garlic and cook for about one minute. Add marinara sauce and stir to combine. Add capers, olives, a splash of fish sauce, and dried oregano. Simmer until heated through. Taste for seasoning but with the salty ingredients and chili pepper, it probably will not require any more salt or pepper.
Cook pasta according to package instructions. Drain and toss with olive oil.
Meanwhile, slice the warm octopus. Slice the thicker ends into half inch disks and slice the thinner ends lengthwise for presentation. Add the sliced octopus to the marinara sauce. When everything is hot, serve immediately.
Place pasta in bowls, ladle marinara and octopus over the pasta, scatter parsley on top.
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