Monster From the Deep

I’ve always been a little apprehensive to cook octopus. Read about it on web, and mostly what you’ll find are remedies to make the meat tender. Some advocate hitting it exactly 73 times against a rock near the water front (yes, has to be along the water front). Others say you have to leave it hanging in the sun for at least 3 days. My favorite — boil it with a cork. Perhaps a tipsy cook dropped his wine stopper into the pot once, and found that the meat seemed to be especially edible afterwards. Who knows.

I love this picture -- it just seems to scream "sea monster"

I love this picture — it just seems to scream “sea monster”

The truth is, cook it right, and the octopus will reward you with pleasantly firm, oh-so-slightly chewy, mild flavored meat. I’ve had it a few ways — in pasta, cold, in salads — but nothing compares to a hint of char and the citrusy tang of the Greek Holy Trinity: olive oil, oregano, and lemon. I made the dish as an appetizer, but found myself unable to devour about 2 out of the 3 pounds. (And at $3/pound, it’s about the best taste for your buck you can find!)



I boiled mine for about 45 minutes with a bay leave, some wine, and yes, a cork (it would be toying fate to forego one). You’ll know it’s done when piercing it with a knife feels a bit like piecing a potato. If in doubt, cut off a small piece and see if it’s still overly chewy.

From there, I tossed it in black pepper, olive oil, oregano, lemon and salt and allowed it to marinade for a few minutes. I grilled it for about 10 minutes over high heat — enough to get a bit of char on the outside but not overcook, and then removed it. I added a bit more of the pepper/oil/lemon/oregano vinaigrette and served it over a bed of garlic spinach. A few dashes of aleppo pepper added some nice color and a hint of spice.

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