Octopus has become quite a fashionable appetizer on the menus of trending restaurants. Sadly, many people can’t overcome their initial reaction to seeing the tentacles on this unusual sea creature.
I will generally opt for octopus, particularly if it is grilled. Eating octopus at a restaurant spares one of the distasteful task of preparing this delightful aquatic delicacy for fellow gourmands.
On a recent visit to Dallas, I challenged my brother to display his virtuosity smoking octopus for a citrus salad appetizer. He obliged with a frozen 3 pound octopus. It was delicious! Found below are some of the essential requirements to prep the octopus for smoking:
How to Prepare Octopus
There are many recommendations on preparing octopus for smoking or grilling. Most octopus is sold frozen and the vendor will claim that it has been “tenderized.” What this means is difficult to determine so we strongly suggest that the octopus be brined or parboiled. We prefer parboiling since it breaks down the dense tissue of tentacles.
A whole octopus is not a pretty sight. After defrosting, one needs to remove the beak, the eyes and the anus of the octopus.
Then immerse the octopus 3 times in boiling water for about 20 seconds each time. This will cause the tentacles to enlarge and prepares the octopus for parboiling. Allow the octopus to dry (use a fan if necessary) and then immerse in boiling water for between 30 to 40 minutes to soften the tentacles. Spices are optional.
Remove the octopus, allow it to come to room temperature and cut off the eight tentacles. Discard the carcass.
Octopus is now ready for grilling or smoking. I have opted to coat the tentacles in a mixture of olive oil and paprika to give them some color and a little heat. A well-cooked octopus should be firm, but not too rubbery.
Smoked Octopus Citrus Salad
- 3 lb octopus
- 2 cara cara oranges sectioned, but save juice
- 3 to 4 cups of fresh arugula
- 1 cup of fresh radicchio chopped or sliced
- 1/4 cup of sliced Kalamata olives
- smoked paprika or pimenton to coat octopus legs
For Salad Dressing
- Juice of cara cara oranges
- 2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Preparation for Octopus
- Thoroughly clean octopus. Remove beak, eyes and anus.
- Dip octopus in boiling water 3 times for about 20 seconds each time to prepare octopus for parboiling. Dry thoroughly.
- Parboil for 30 to 40 minutes to breakdown tissue.
- Remove and dry thoroughly.
- Cut off the eight tentacles and discard carcass
- Put a wooden skewer through each tentacle
- Gently coat with olive oil and paprika mixture before smoking or grilling.
- Smoke for 1 hour or grill quickly over a medium fire for about 10 -12 minutes rotating to crisp both sides.
- Combine salad ingredients and toss with vinaigrette.
- Cut octopus legs in bite-size pieces and place on top of salad.