This week’s column features an ingredient that doesn’t appear often in these pages — octopus.
While calamari — squid — has become a pretty regular item on roadhouse and restaurant menus, octopus has yet to become mainstream.
I had occasion to enjoy this delicious seafood a number of times on recent trips to Portugal and Italy.
My recipe today is an adaptation of a salad I made in Italy after purchasing a fresh octopus at one of the markets in Florence.
The trick to making octopus enjoyable is to cook it until it is tender.
Fresh octopus will take much longer to become tender than previously frozen.
You can find octopus at some grocery store seafood counters (previously frozen) and in the freezer section of many Asian and Portuguese markets.
This simple salad features new potatoes, along with capers, celery and parsley in a simple oil and vinegar dressing.
If octopus isn’t something you’re anxious to try, this salad is also delicious substituting quality olive oil-packed tuna.
Editor’s note: Back by popular demand, the Londoner is reprinting a selection of Jill Wilcox’s recipes. This one was originally published June 23, 2018. Enjoy!
OCTOPUS AND POTATO SALAD
(Insalata di polpo e patate) (Serves 6)
*1 small octopus (about 1 1/4 lbs., 575g) cleaned
½ cup (125 ml) white wine
1 lb. (500 g) new potatoes
2 green onions thinly sliced
1 cup (250 ml) of thinly sliced celery (including leaves)
½ sweet red pepper, diced
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) chopped capers
2 Tbsp. (25 ml) chopped parsley
5 Tbsp. (65 ml) extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. (45 ml) red wine vinegar Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon wedges for garnish
Bring medium pot of water to boil with white wine.
Add octopus and reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook, turning occasionally for about 45 minutes to an hour or until tender.
Remove from pot and drain on paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Boil potatoes in salted water until tender. Drain. Let cool.
To assemble salad, remove octopus from fridge. Remove tentacles from octopus and remove membrane from tentacles by gently rubbing with your fingers. Cut tentacles into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Cut head (if using) in half and then into strips.
Cut potatoes in half and place in bowl. Add octopus, onion, celery, red pepper, capers and parsley.
Add olive oil and red wine vinegar. toss well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.
Note 1: We have access to frozen octopus or previously frozen octopus. To clean, remove the internal organs, eyes, and beak. Wash well under cold running water. Previously frozen octopus cooks in much less time than fresh.
Note 2: This salad can be made with canned tuna if octopus is not to your liking. Substitute 1 large can of olive oil packed tuna for the octopus. this will serve 4.