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.
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.