Ask Kemp: How To Cook Octopus

Cooking questions don’t just come via tweets to @AskKemp or to the Epicurious Facebook page (keep them coming, readers!); even my colleagues hit me up occasionally. Chris Jagger, copy chief of the Condé Nast Editorial Development Group, sits elbow to elbow with me twice a week, and invariably we talk food. Jagger loves to cook for his wife and two young sons and he credits Gourmet magazine with getting him started in the kitchen. Q: Chris Jagger asks: Gourmet ran an Octopus Salad in April 2008 that looks amazing, and I’d like to make it for a dinner party this weekend. The instructions are straightforward enough, but I’ve never cooked octopus before and I wondered if you had any tips or suggestions for me (like, how will I know when it’s done?). And if you can think of a way to shave a few minutes off the total time, I’d love to know! Kemp: As a long time member of the former Gourmet magazine test kitchen staff, I remember this octopus salad well; it’s definitely worth making. In fact, I’ve prepared variations of the salad often this summer for my brown bag lunch. Here’s what you need to know: ? Most of the octopus that is available in markets in this country was previously frozen, so make sure your octopus is completely thawed. The safest place to do this is in a bowl in the refrigerator. ? When gently simmering the octopus, be aware that the time it takes to become tender can really vary. The recipe suggests a range of 45 minutes to 1 hour, but start checking it at 40 minutes and be prepared for it to possibly take even longer than an hour. Some recipes add a wine cork to the water. I tried it a couple of times and didn’t see the point, but I want to investigate it further. ? To test for doneness, you can use the tip of a sharp knife, but I tend to grab a wooden skewer. When either utensil pierces the center of the tentacles easily–no resistance–the octopus is done. ? Some recipes cook the octopus whole, others discard the head and cook the tentacles whole. This recipe involves cutting the tentacles into pieces before cooking. Why don’t you follow the recipe for the first time, then consider playing around with alternatives in the future. ? Octopus shrink significantly during cooking, releasing a lot of liquid. Some recipes actually braise octopus very slowly in a covered pot using only the liquid the octopus gives off as it cooks, but this method takes several hours in a low oven. ? After the octopus is cooked, there is a purple outer membrane that slides off easily. Some cooks leave it on and some remove it. It’s up to you. But don’t discard the suckers–they’re my favorite part! ? If you adore grilled octopus, simply coat the cooked octopus lightly with some oil and sear it over a hot grill. ? You can…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to get this amazing EBOOK FREE

By subscribing to this newsletter you agree to our Privacy Policy