Monday, December 28, 2015

I ate octopus - recipe review

I gave cans of fancy octopus to Mark and Esme for Christmas as a gag gift.  It was Mark's idea... but he didn't think I was going to do it after I told him I couldn't find a way to use it and didn't want to waste it.

But I found some recipes.  And I thought, I'd try one.  I chose a Greek one that we had most of the materials for  - and had to substitute a few things and pare down the quantities because I was only making for myself and using one can of octopus.  The recipe called for tapenade - and I know my substitution for that was not very close.  I'm not sure yet if I like tapenade...anchovy paste and all that.

Octopus and Potatoes with Olives and Chile at Epicurious

First off - it wasn't that bad.  It was edible - even without the sauce or anything else on it.  I think I fell into the large percentage of people who cook the octopus too long.  The recipe actually says just until heated through.  And the canned octopus is already cooked.  But there is that fear factor that the fire will help make it 'safe'.  In this case, I've read the longer you heat it after it is out of the can the more rubbery it becomes - until it is like chewing a rubber band.  I described the octopus in my dish as 'like cubes of fish pepperoni'.. chewy, cured-feeling... but maybe it would have been better if I had swept it in the pan and out of it as soon as the beans had warmed a little, just like the recipe said.

So, my recipe was this - I'd say it makes two servings.

1 large potato, peeled and cut into small cubes. 
A bit of onion and two small cloves of garlic, minced up.
Good olive oil.
Red cayenne pepper
White wine vinegar, because we had no red.
About 9 green olives and a handful of walnut pieces, ground up together with a tablespoon of olive oil , dashed with salt and allowed to sit about eight minutes
Canned black eyed peas, rinsed and drained.
The recipe called for navy beans, but black eyed peas were mentioned in another recipe as being a good match, and they were the other half of the gag gift.

I followed the recipe for the potato, boiling it in a water bath with a lid partially on for twelve minutes.  Then I drained it and reserved the cooking water, 1 cup, as required.  While the potatoes boiled I minced the onion and garlic, and prepared the food grinder with the olive and walnut mixture.  I opened and drained the octopus (which did not smell bad...that was encouraging), and the black eyed peas.  Everything was ready for the next step by the time the potatoes came off the stove.

Next came the onion and garlic and olive oil for eight minutes, stir-fry type with a little water in it to keep the pan from burning.  Once the onion began to become transparent - I added the cayenne pepper, then a splash of vinegar and waited for the liquid to begin to burn off.  (I might have put too much vinegar - it is hard to pare down a recipe on the time, less)

I removed the whole thing from the heat to bring the other ingredients.  The olive mixture, the potatoes, a half cup of the black eyed peas, the octopus, and half a cup of the potato cooking water...  The olive mixture coated everything and smelled very good.  I let it heat a little longer than I should.  Then it was out onto a plate and drizzled over with a little extra olive oil.  I paired it with some apple pastry we had left in the fridge from Christmas.

The octopus was very chewy.  It might have been better if it hadn't been cooked quite as long.  Other than the chew-chew-chew it was all quite pleasant.

So, I've eaten octopus.  I might do it again.  But, I'll make sure I plan out a few more ingredients and be sparing on the heat and vinegar.  I also read it is not a good idea to eat any leftovers the next day.  I went and looked that up because I could only eat half of what the above recipe produced. We have another can left in the cupboard.  It will probably be at least a month before I try another recipe :)

Next idea to try - based on what I learned with this - tandoori spice mix.  I cleaned our entire spice shelf today and am writing down the things I will need.

No comments: