As I am perfecting my “Feast of the Seven Fishes” blog, I knew it would not be complete without an Octopus Salad. One problem, however. I never made octopus in my life. I knew I wanted one that was cleaned…no way I was going to “butcher” my own. I also knew that I needed to boil it…see I have watched many Food Network shows. The Carolina Meat & Fish Co gave me one to play with! The octopus was previously frozen, so I did let it thaw in the fridge overnight.
My second dilemma was what are earth was I going to put in this salad. I knew after I boiled, that I wanted the slight char taste from the grill…that part was easy. I also knew some kind of vinegar/olive oil/lemon base. I searched a few recipes on Pinterest and ultimately decided that I was going a bit out of the box with this recipe instead of sticking with a more traditional approach. I am happy to report…it is one lovely recipe. One that should not only be enjoyed for the holidays, but one that you should make all year long! And…it’s super healthy…loads of vegetables with a light dressing!
So here it goes…my adventure with a 5-pound whole octopus and how I transformed it into one beautiful, and delicious recipe.
Heat a large pot of salted water to just under a boil. Toss in bay leaves. Rinse your octopus. I recommend purchasing one that is already cleaned. If you want to avoid cooking the octopus yourself…not sure why you would…haha…you can purchase pre-cooked, frozen tentacles. In this case, you would just skip to the grilling part of this recipe, or you can even opt out of grilling altogether, if you so desire.
Place the octopus in the water by doing a kind of a “dunk and lift” method…you will see the tentacles start to curl up as they hit the hot water…this is what your want. Keep holding by the head and dunking a few times until you see the tentacles harden a bit and turn a reddish-purple color. Release octopus into the pot and allow to simmer on high for about 45 minutes to an hour, or until tender. Smaller octopi will take a little less time to tenderize.
When the octopus is cooked and tender, you can either allow it to cool down in the pot or you can remove and transfer to a bowl. Once the octopus can be handled, start cutting off the tentacles. Discard the head. If you are grilling, keep the tentacles whole for now. If you wish not to grill, cut the tentacles into one-inch pieces. Reserve in bowl.
Heat up your outdoor or indoor grill. Just quickly char the tentacles. Only takes a few minutes. Cut into one-inch pieces and reserve.
In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the dressing. Taste. You may want a bit more oil, vinegar or salt. See picture below on how to cut the celery. I like my knife cuts here…gives a nice thin slice of celery with each bite.
Add the octopus to the dressing. Toss to coat. Serve at room temperature…ENJOY! Isn’t she a BEAUTY?