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Nov 1, 2009 05:19 AM

Cooking Octopus followup [moved from Boston board]

I bought a fresh octopus, one pound, from Courthouse lase week and discussed it on a thread here. I used Batali's method of cooking it and it was very tender - like roast chicken. I discusse the method on the thread with galleygirl:

Had the last of it last night with Kimchi on the side, seemed appropriate for Halloween.

As an aside, Babbo had many of Batali's recipes online:

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  1. Nice. My understanding has always been with squid and octo that a long cook is the key.

    1 Reply
    1. re: StriperGuy

      It was 90 minutes at 300F and the aluminum foil was held down with the dutch oven pid. I peeked in twice, afraid that it was burning, and so added maybe 1/3 cup water the second time to replace steam that had escaped.

    2. I plan to try this method this week. I've never cooked an octo either. Nice to know Courthouse is carrying them at the moment. Thanks for posting steinpilz.

      17 Replies
        1. re: steinpilz

          THIS is why I love this site. a) I didn't know New Deal had fresh octopus. b) I didn't know that I needed it. c) I didn't know how to cook it. Steinpilz to the rescue!

          I tried this method tonight and it's amazing. The resulting octo is soft and tender and really deeply flavored. I followed Batali's recipe exactly and cooked my 1 1/2 pounder for 2 hours. After it cooled a bit I chopped it up and served over congee.

          A note: the cooking liquid is delicious -- drizzle over the rest of your dish. I found that mine was a bit salty, even tho I didn't add salt, but the melted garlic and red pepper flakes dissolved into unctuous goo.

          Thanks steinpilz. I'll be posting some pictures once I upload them.

            1. re: yumyum

              Nom, nom, nom; I'm so trying this!
              To make this Boston-centric, the frozen foods area at Hi Lo Market has pretty good prices on frozen octo, which is often all Courthouse has, as well. Now, when yer talkin' fresh, there's no comparison. Will have to get my sea creature!

                1. re: yumyum

                  Your congee looks a little undercooked, tho.. :)

                  1. re: galleygirl

                    Bagged! SRSLY ... I got lazy and wanted to eat my octo. I should have let it go for a lot longer.

                2. re: galleygirl

                  Got 2.5 lb. frozen at Hi Lo...Followed the recipe precisely; left it for 2 hts. 15 minutes...I am currently STUFFED with octopus....

                  1. re: galleygirl

                    Great news gallergirl.

                    Happy New Year!

                    1. re: steinpilz

                      Thank you; what better way to celebrate than a whole octo!
                      Actually, part of a HUGE octo....There were parts at the top of the legs that were a little chewy, which surprised me, becasue the thick chunks, cut from the 'neck', if such a thing existed, were like butter. I wonder if I got a better sear on them becasue they were in chunks? No matter what, this is my new way of cooking octo, all the time...I can see it would be great tossed on a hot grill for a minute or two afterwards, for char...

                      1. re: galleygirl

                        Glad you like it, sounds like a great octo!

                3. re: yumyum

                  Hey Yumyum, glad to hear that you liked this method! Thanks for the nice post, it made my day.

                  I've got to try that pepper-garlic goop, thanks for this heads up.

                  I also very much like most everything about Chowhound (well, maybe I might say that the Chow police are way too Stalinist).

                  PS: that's a good looking octo you got!

                  1. re: yumyum

                    Hey Yumyum, glad that you liked this method. Thanks for your comments, it made my day!

                    I also very much like Chowhound, I do think that the Chow police are a bit too Stalinist for my taste though (this thread just got split to "Home Cooking"...thanks to these very comments I suspect).

                    I've got to try that pepper and garlic goop, thank you also for this heads-up.

                    That's a good looking octo that you got!

                4. re: yumyum

                  In all my research, there seemed two basic approaches, stewing (sometimes followed by grilling) or the dutch oven method of cooking it in it's own juices. That's what I'll be trying next.

                  1. re: yumyum

                    I used to believe that the beating/long cooking method was it for octopus, but the superior version I had at Erbaluce was, as clearly described by the bartender, quickly seared on each side, and that's it. It was wonderful, not at all rubbery, lightly browned, and very fresh tasting. Then again, it was a smaller and presumably (though I do not know this) younger creature......

                    69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                    1. re: Zatan

                      Same is true of squid as I said above. Cook it very short, or very long.

                  2. It's a little bit counter-intuitive.

                    Since squid and octopus have extensive, durable collagen (tough connective tissue) networks in their bodies like non-fish animals do, they're more like cooking a tough cut of beef than a piece of trout or a clam. What you were seeing after about 30-40 minutes was part of the initial toughening and tightening of the collagen, which lasts a little under an hour. After being at above 180 or so for about an hour, the collagen starts degrading more rapidly into gelatin. Since the tough connective tissue is no longer tightly holding the muscle structure together, the meat becomes tender while the gelatin makes it succulent and adds body to your cooking liquid. This will continue to happen the longer it is cooked.

                    For example, Portuguese octopus stew will consistently have tender soft octopus. I've never seen cooked for less than an hour and a half, and it's often cooked for 2-3 hours.

                    A great book for stuff like this is Harold McGee's "On Food and Cooking"... it tends to be in the larger book stores around. If you happen to see it, check out the section called "Cephalopod Texture" on page 230. Not only is it a really fun read, it's a fantastic reference book for stuff like this.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: muscles_marinara

                      When I had one of the best octopus dishes ever in Santorini (and I eat it often) I asked the chef his secret.
                      He told me that when stewing the octopus in water and vinegar, he adds a whole onion to the pot. Once the onion is fork tender, its time to take out the octopus. It is served with drizzles of vinegar, olive oil, a few tbs. of capers and some fresh parsley.

                      I have tried this and it works. I also take the octopus after braising and grill it briefly to give it a nice char. then i pour a tall glass of ouzo. :)

                      I write about it here:

                      1. re: eviemichael

                        They also hang out their octopuses to dry in the sun which may help in tenderising it. I did a double take the first time I saw that in Crete!

                    2. My husband (a Japanese fishmonger) and I visited an octopus factory in Japan and one of the employees suggested putting octopus on curry. It was so good. Here are some photos of that dish and other successful octopus dishes:


                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Yukari

                        Thank you for the link, I also follow the Japanese Food Report and Yasuko-san's home cooking, looking forward to reading your blog.