A fresh and delightful way to enjoy the summer heat is with this easy octopus recipe. Many people are very intimidated by the idea of cooking octopus but it is actually really easy to master.
Simply start with a great product and the rest will be quite easy. Most large octopi need nothing more than an hour in boiling water to yield a tender product, which can then be used in many different recipes with great results.
After this initial boiling in water, then cooling off in the fridge, it is then possible to sear in a hot pan, pass over a hot grill, or even baked in the oven.
In this particular recipe, I decided to combine the octopus with some citrusy flavors of the summer, which is very refreshing on the palate on a hot summer day!
Octopus Ceviche with Leche de Tigre
1 whole fresh Octopus
½ Onion, peeled
6 cloves Garlic, whole
2 Bay leaves
1 tablespoon Salt
Add octopus to large pot and cover with water. Add salt onion, garlic and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to maintain simmer for about an hour or until octopus is tender. Check by piercing thicker part of tentacle with a knife, which should have minimal resistance.
Allow the octopus to cool in the cooking water. Then remove from water and store in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight until octopus is chilled through. This helps to tighten up the skin so it doesn’t slide away during further handling. Save a half cup of the cooking liquid for the tiger’s milk recipe.
Remove the hard beak which is found in the center of the base of the octopus’ body, where the tentacles meet. Cut out the eyes; the rest of the head is edible. Separate tentacles into individual pieces.
Cut tentacles crosswise on the bias into ¼ inch rounds and the head into small strips.
Tigers Milk recipe:
½ Cup Octopus Broth
½ Cup Coconut milk
½ large red Onion, rough chopped
2 stalks Celery, rough chopped
8 stalks Cilantro, rough chopped with stems
3 Limes, juiced
Combine all of the ingredients in the blender and blend for no more than 30 seconds to extract as much juice and flavor as possible. Pass through a fine mesh sieve, discard solids and season to taste. Set aside.
½ Cucumber, fine dice
Red Onion, minced
½ fresh Scotch bonnet pepper, minced
4 stalks Cilantro, leaves pulled from stems
1 cup Tigers Milk
¼ cup fresh Passion fruit pulp
High quality Olive oil
Garnish and plating:
Combine the cucumber, red onion and scotch bonnet in a mixing bowl with a dash of olive oil and season to taste.
Combine the octopus with the tiger milk and let marinate for 5 minutes, then check for seasoning. It should have a strong citrus and salty flavor.
Place the octopus in the serving dish of your choice and then garnish with the cucumber salad, then top with passion fruit pulp and cilantro leaves.
Serve immediately for best flavor.
Nigel Spence, a Culinary Institute of America alumnus, was born in Kingston, Jamaica. Nigel freelanced at the Television Food Network for 3 years where he worked with culinary luminaries such as Bobby Flay and Emeril Lagasse. Chef Spence has appeared twice on Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he emerged the victor in cook offs against the Food Network star and was featured on CBS when he appeared on Tony’s Table as well as ABC’s Neighborhood Eats, NBC’s The Today Show , Sirius’ Everyday Living with Martha Stewart and TVFN’s Chopped. The acclaimed and New York Times-reviewed Ripe Kitchen and Bar is Mr Spence’s first entrepreneurial endeavor.