Monday, July 22, 2013

Grilled Baby Octopus Salad

Octopus and I have had a thing lately.  Not sure what it is, but I've been downing them like a hungry sea creature swimming through a school of octopi.  They're pretty cheap at my fish guy ($4/lb) and always available.  Easy to prep, simple to grill, quick to toss with this Greek influenced summer salad.  So damn tasty!  That's why I've been making this salad almost every weekend for the past month.

If you've never prepared baby octopus before, it's not difficult.  Just slice off their heads and you're ready to go.  You might be able to find them frozen and already headless, I've never gone that route.  I enjoy the relationship with my fish guy.  He calls everyone buddy, even the ladies.  You could also leave the heads on and clean them out, cut off the beak, but that seems like too much work for such little return.  Here's a tutorial anyway.  

One time I brought home a normal, full-size, adult, giant octopus.  Man that thing was huge.  Lots of waste after cleaning and par-boiling the massive tentacles before grilling, the experience has certainly made me wiser.  Baby is the way to go. 

Olives, tomatoes, red onion, and good quality fruity extra virgin are key to make the flavors sing.  A few leaves of oregano from the garden, a shot of heat with the serrano, and of course fresh lemon juice to add the required acidity to bring it all together. 
 
 Grilled Baby Octopus Salad
2-4 servings as side or appetizer

1/2 lb baby octopus, heads removed
6-8 kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
6 cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1/4 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 small serrano pepper, thinly sliced
fresh oregano leaves from a couple sprigs
lemon juice from 1/2 medium lemon
good extra virgin olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
sea salt

Fire up the grill for medium high heat.  Preheat a perforated grill pan also, you don't want to lose any through the grates.  With your cleaned octopi in a small bowl, add a bit of EVOO and a touch of S&P.  Grease up those little guys and then get them on the grill.  Turn every couple minutes for about 4-6 minutes, until the tentacles are lightly charred and the bodies are cooked through.  Slice the large ones into halves or quarters, the little ones (which will cook quicker, pull them off the heat sooner) can be added whole. 

In a medium mixing bowl, add the olives, tomatoes, onion, serrano, oregano leaves, and the cooked octopi.  Pour a couple glugs of your best EVOO, then a healthy squeeze of a half lemon.  Toss well to coat everything with the oil and juice.  Season with a bit of pepper and sprinkle on some sea salt, or kosher will do also.  Mix thoroughly and serve at room temp or chill slightly.  Pairs very well with your favorite summer white chilled wine. 


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