So while I was chatting with the fish vendor, my 10-year old son exclaimed "Wow! Look Mom, they have octopus!" My son is quite an adventurous eater, so he begged me to buy it along with our usual fish. I didn't think it through at the time since I was in a bit of a rush trying to buy what we need and I've noticed most vendors were packing up to close. So walking back home, I asked my son (who by the way, has never tasted octopus before) what he planned on his special buy. He replied: Oh, you can just cook it like squid, it will be great!
Say what? So come time to prepare dinner, here I am staring at this thing with no idea what to do and how to do it. Where do I start? My son passed by "Aren't you gonna take a picture, Mom?" Oh my, that made me laugh. (I suppose my kids are used to seeing me clicking away at food.) So I did and off to the computer I went for ideas. Kath, a fellow blogger was on Twitter at the time and she suggested takoyaki. She made it sound so good but I didn't have dashi or katsuobushi at hand.
But there is still a matter of preparing the octopus. More google searching ended up with this very good article from The Splendid Table titled "Octopus Demystified" by Mark Bittman:
Almost every octopus dish begins with simmering, and it is not unlike cooking a tough piece of meat: You put the octopus in water to cover and cook it until it is tender. This usually takes about an hour, but may be considerably less for smaller specimens and sometimes twice as long for larger, tougher ones. Judging tenderness is easy: When the thickest part of the octopus (the "skirt," where the head meets the legs) yields to the sharp point of a small knife with little resistance, it is done.
Saturday is another farmers' market day for us. After the market, we ended up stopping by a bahn mi cafe for lunch because we got distracted by the many yard sales we were passing by on our way home. My son and I have completely forgotten about his octopus chilling in the fridge. Ooops!
Sunday came, the family's lazy day so no one wanted to go anywhere. I still don't have any dashi. My husband had started simmering marinara sauce to have for dinner so I followed suit, changed gears and decided to just quickly fry these suckers for an antipasti. Off they go, tossed into a bowl with some Wondra seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika and quickly fried in a little olive oil.
Having just finished photographing some cookies, I must have still been on my challenge mode because this is how the dish turned out:
My son loved it! The octopus was tender, even better than squid, he thought. Now he expects to have octopus (or is it octopi) all the time. So now I need your help. Do you have any recipes you can share with me? I have a feeling octopus will be part of our family meals from now on. And can I just say, I'm such a sucker for my kids! :)I have another entry for Tracey Tangled Noodle and Jennifer's Savor the Thyme for their Eating Your Words 2010 Challenge.