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How to Prepare and Cook Fresh Octopus

Once Adrienne discovered octopus, she realized it could offer an enjoyable twist to many familiar dishes.

Octopus may be prepared in a variety of ways

Octopus may be prepared in a variety of ways

While octopus has long been consumed in southern Italy, it is less commonly served in other parts of the world. In recent years, however, more and more people have begun to discover this seafood for the first time.

With this increase in interest, octopus is being upgraded from its humble origins, and today it can be savoured in some very sophisticated restaurants. While some people may find octopus to be intimidating, those that are bold enough try it often discover a great-tasting seafood that can offer a new twist to many dishes.

In the United States, it is quite rare to find fresh octopus. Most octopus is cleaned and frozen before being shipped to local retailers. This is good because octopus spolis very quickly.

How to Prepare Fresh Octopus

Preparing octopus may be quite intimidating for newbies. An easy option is to have your fishmonger clean and prepare the octopus for you, so all you would need to do would be simply cooking it. However, if you want to give the whole preparation a try, you may do so by following some simple instructions.

Note: No matter how you plan to prepare the octopus, it must be boiled first. After it has been boiled, then you may proceed to the selected recipe.

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  1. Turn the octopus inside out, just as you would do with a pair of socks.
  2. Clean the octopus under warm running water for approximately one minute.
  3. Remove the beak (the little hard ball found at the center), the eyes, and the ink sack.
  4. Turn the octopus right side out again.
  5. Boil the whole octopus in enough water to cover it entirely. Most octopus cook within one hour. A good way to determine if it is ready is by inserting a knife blade where the octopus head meets the legs. If the blade yields with no resistance, the octopus is done.
  6. Rinse the octopus in cold water and remove the slimy parts.
Cooked octopus

Cooked octopus

Cook's Tips

There are various tricks of the trade to ensure that the octopus remains tender. Many people say that don't like octopus because of its rubbery consistency. However, when cooked properly, octopus is surprisingly tender. Following are some tips to prevent eating rubber-sole tough octopus.

  • Do not overcook it. The more it cooks the more likely it is to toughen.
  • Greeks like to beat the octopus against a rock in order to tenderize the flesh.
  • Italians may cook it with two corks.
  • Some cooks recommend boiling the octopus with half a potato.
  • Freezing or pounding the meat may help yield tender flesh.

Serving Suggestions

Once cooked, octopus can be prepared in a variety of ways. Here are a few options I like:

  • Cut up in a salad
  • With a sauce of parsley, oil, and red hot pepper
  • In a sauce served with spaghetti
  • Grilled

The possibilities are many, so visit your local market and discover octopus. You may be surprised.

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