How best to cook two octupi I have sitting in the fridge for 2 months now after a trip to the coast in Mombasa?
A personal favorite: defrost, pound the heck out of them with a meat hammer, and grill. Towards the end, slather with some sweet sauce (I make my own home version of teriyaki with sugar, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and different oils). Sprinkle with more sesame seeds and serve.
It's great just grilled and sprinkled with good salt, too. The trick is to really pound it to tenderize, and then don't grill it for too long. Greek restaurants do a great job of this, but frankly I haven't mastered it 100% yet. Anyone else know the secret?
I boil water with a cork in it (Mario Batali swears by this). Place octopus in water(no salt) and simmer for 50 to 60 min. till tender....I then proceed to grill it...It has been awhile since i have done it but i thought results were preety good...Do I use a knife? I can't remember....Maybe someone else can help with better instructions...
I have not cooked octopus myself, but have been in the kitchen several times when it was cooking.
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. My grandmother would test the octopus, she would try to peel off the skin. She "knew" when to check, based on experience. Sometimes she cooked just an arm, sometime whole octopus. Depending on the size, 30 minutes to an hour.
The water was salted, a "handful" of salt was added to the pot. I would guess a tablespoon for 3-4 qts of water.
As far as "softness", one of the uses of the cooked octopus was sashimi.
My father caught an octopus while fishing, he simmered it. I ate it (legs) in chunks with various dipping sauces. My father made "sato shoyu" out of it, told his friends it was rattlesnake meat. It gets chewy when cooked the second time. Sato Shoyu (in my family) is roughly equal parts of shoyu, sugar, and mirin. Place seafood in sauce pan, add shoyu/sugar/mirin and bring to a simmer. My father would add chili pepper flakes.
I think the Octopus bonds will break and be soft if you have it in the freezer for more than 5 days. There's no need to beat it to death once it's been defrosted. This is going to be cruel imagery but I have only seen octopus beating on the beach when the beach boys caught a live octopus and had to beat it senseless (smashing it on rocks or hammering it with a coconut) before putting in to boil immediately thereafter.
I guess I'll add "my two cents" to this discussion. I as a rule buy nothing larger than a 2 1/2 to 3 lb Octopus, as the once or twice that I bought larger did not ever get tender enough... And I DO like at least a little chewiness. Its my understanding that any Octopus we could buy here in the States will have been frozen even if it is tahwed by your fishmonger and appears to be fresh. For the record, those imported from Portugal around the Holidays seem to be extra tasty and more tender than the average. I too beat the 'pus in a sturdy freezer bag for a few minutes. After that I wash again and coat with salt and refrigerate for 24 hrs. This not only takes care of salting during cooking but also helps with the tenderizing. I think the cork thing is just hogwash... I did it once and there was no difference in texture. I made the recipe listed below just recently and it was really good. If you follow the directions to boil the 'pus but want to do something else rather than the Chipotle-Tomato sauce then boil the 'pus for about 45 min to 1 hr and grill or fry to your hearts content. Hope this helps:
MEXICAN STEWED OCTOPUS
To prepare Octopus for cooking:
1 2 ½ lb. Octopus, beak removed and washed well
½ cup salt
Place octopus in a heavy duty freezer bag and beat with a mallet to tenderize. Remove from bag, rinse it again and place in a non corrosive container just large enough to hold it. Sprinkle ½ cup of salt over the octopus turning it while doing so to evenly distribute the salt. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hrs. This process is to tenderize the octopus. Fill a 12 qt. stockpot ½ way (or just enough to cover octopus) with water. Bring to a boil and dip octopus in water a few times lifting it in and out so that the tentacles curl evenly and nicely. Boil for about ½ hr. Octopus will still need more cooking which it will get in the sauce. Remove octopus from the water and cut up into bite size pieces. Set aside
1 2lb. 3 oz. can Plum Tomatoes
¼ cup Olive Oil
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
4 Chipotle peppers canned in Adobo sauce, chopped
½ cup Cilantro, Chopped
2 Bay Leaves
Salt and Black pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in deep sauce pan over medium heat and add the onion. Saute for about 5 minutes or until wilted, then add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Add the chipotle peppers, stir and cook for an additional minute. Add the tomatoes and mash up with a potato masher right in the pan. Add the octopus, the bay leaves, ¼ cup of the cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a medium simmer and cook for about 45 minutes or until octopus is tender but still pleasantly chewy. Add the last ¼ cup of cilantro and stir. Can be served over rice or pasta with additional chopped cilantro as garnish.