Grilled, raw, salted, you can't go wrong with octopus, so start taste testing. —INGRAIN, Spring 2019
It’s time to release your inner kraken and cook with octopuses.
Spaniards love to down grilled octopus arms (mistakenly called tentacles) as tapas. Italians have no shame in stuffing whole squid like they’re tube-shaped ravioli and then stuffing the whole delicious thing in their mouths. Greek fishermen head out at night with flashlights to find octopuses lurking in tide pool nooks. The biggest of the catch are tenderized the old-fashioned way: by smacking the tough meat over and over again against beachfront rocks. Koreans will boldly eat tiny slices of freshly killed raw octopus as a snack while it is still squirming, with merely a few sprinkles of salt. Even the French appreciate octopus when grilled and served with some sort of fancy confit.
Everyone, just about everywhere, eats cephalopods—except most (mainland, at least) Americans. It’s time for that to change.
Ask your fishmonger for medium-size octopus, typically 1 to 1½ pounds each. With larger octopus, plan on up to an extra hour of stewing time.
If the octopus has pinkish or white flesh and firm legs that are curled up like a fiddlehead fern, it has already been cooked. A raw octopus is typically grayish in color and slippery, like you just pulled it out of the ocean, with floppy tentacles.
Frozen, raw octopus has usually been cleaned. If you lucked out and found fresh octopus, ask your fishmonger to clean it: Remove the eyes, clean the head, and remove the hard beak at the top of the tentacles.
To serve, gently slice off the tentacles for the main dish and chop up the heads to use on tapas and other dishes.