How to Tenderize Octopus
The sea as blue as it is salty is packed with mouth-watering delicacies. Do you remember the first time that you had octopus in that Galician restaurant? You did not know that this food could be so delicious! A delicate texture and an exceptional flavour. You wanted to do it at home, so you went to your local fishmomger and purchased an octopus. But how do you clean it and get it ready for cooking so that it can turn out as delicious as the one that you had in that spanish restaurant? I will help you make that delicious tasting octopus again like the one you remember, as if you were in Galicia itself in a tavern with a good albariño or a delicious ribeiro wine. Are you ready?
The first thing you should do is focus on the raw material. They say that the secret of all octopus is that it comes out very tender when cooked.
Those who think this are not without a reason. But of course, there is something even more important: the type of octopus we buy. There are many varieties of this cephalopod. Your trusted fishmonger will provide you with a good genre. If you are unlucky and come across a stringy octopus, it will be impossible for it to be tender when cooked. This usually happens if you buy a spawned female. Try to buy male specimens with a good size, about two kilos in weight. If possible and if you can afford it, buy octopus caught in Galician waters as it is the very best!
Okay, let’s go with the cooking. You have to do a few things beforehand before cooking the octopus.
No, it is not to put it in water for a few minutes and then take it out. You may buy it fresh and uncleaned. Therefore, you should take a little time to prepare it. The octopus is very easy to clean. First clean the legs under the tap. Afterwards, you must remove the viscera. This is done by turning the octopus upside down and cleaning the inside of the head under running water. You are almost ready! At this point, you have two options. The first is the least common but is the traditional way. You have to give him a good beating! I mean it literally! You can do this either with a rolling pin or with the baseball bat that you have hiding behind your front door! No, no, no, only joking! Giving the octopus a good beating was done in the good old days, hitting the octopus against a stone 30 or 40 times. Once this was done, you could start the cooking process.
However, it is no longer necessary to beat the octopus to make it more tender. There are other equally effective and much simpler methods. Option two is that fresh octopus should be frozen for two or three days. This way you will get the fibers that keep it smooth to break. One day before cooking it, you must take it out of the freezer so that the defrosting is progressive, eliminating the liquid that is released.
Once we have the octopus softened, we have to scare the life out of him! How, if he´s already dead? First you hit him or freeze him and then you want to scare him? You had better do all of this in a well secluded place just incase someone comes knocking at your door because you have been reported for animal cruelty! No, no, no! Well, it is a simple process that consists of boiling water with a bay leaf and immersing the octopus for a couple of seconds about three or four times when the water is boiling. Now, leave the octopus in the saucepan with the hot water and cover it. For how long? Good question Sherlock! The time depends on the octopus size. Ideally, keep an eye on it and check every 15 minutes with a skewer to see if it is tender and does not resist. Be careful about going overboard, as it can shrink alot. The normal thing is that a one and a half kilo octopus takes about 25 or 30 minutes to be ready. As an additional trick, there are those who turn off the heat and let the octopus rest in the pot for another 20 minutes. Clever!
The octopus is cut into pieces whilst hot, with scissors and not a knife – and you can serve it as you like best!
Have you already thought about how to cook it? Click here to see some octopus recipes that are published on my blog!