A Grasp on Fresh Octopus...

Have you ever tried fresh Octopus? Flown in from the outskirts of the Mediterranean or Caspian Seas? Sure, we have most likely savored them at our favorite local sushi hang out or fish market, but to get those fresh, young cephalopods ready for the cooking is really fascinating! I had not really had them until I traveled to Italy, but then did not see them anywhere in the U.S. until not too long ago. I was on a dining mission to a favorite of many to Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, ran and mastered by Holly Smith, chef and owner who inspired me (any many other Seattle chef's I'm sure, even if they will not admit it!) to search it out and get it into our repertoire of tastes at the RC. So, with the help of our trusty...ok, not so trusty (for those that know him as "John from Osprey") fish monger. He has been able to connect with a source from Greece and/or Portugal to bring in these beauties. We also can get them from a trusted source from Florida, who brings us baby ones which rock! I have broken down the method to our madness for you... here goes!

4 ea. Fresh Octopus, medium sized (1 ½- 2 lb. each)

Remove beaks, eyes and innards from octopus. To remove innards, reach under head and place finger under flap that holds flap. Pull to break, and then pull out sac outwards completely. Clean well. Scrub entire cephalopod (octopus family) with sea salt inside and out with towel to remove slime and black pigment. Rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Poaching liquid:

1- 1 ½ gal. Water
1- 1 ¼ qt. White Wine
2 cp. Champagne Vinegar
1 ea. Sachet Bag- thyme, tarragon, chervil, parsley, white peppercorns, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, clove and anise seed.
½ ea. Yellow Onion, chopped small
½ ea. Carrot, peeled, chopped small
1 stalk Celery, chopped small
¼ cp. Leeks, chopped small
6 cloves Garlic, peeled, end removed, crushed
¼ cp. Mushrooms, chopped
4 slices Lemons
¼ cp. Olive Oil
1/3 cp. Kosher Salt
5-6ea. Champagne Corks

Mix all ingredients in a large stainless steel pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add octopus and bring back to a simmer. Cook slowly for approximately 45-60 minutes until tender. Remove and place warm right into marinade. (see below)

Marinade: (just enough to coat)

1 part Red Wine Vinegar
3 parts Red Wine
A/N Olive Oil
A/N Black Pepper, fresh ground; Fresh Chopped Herbs, Tarragon, Chervil, Italian Parsley, Fennel Fronds; Shaved Fennel, Red Pepper Flakes; Garlic minced; Shallots, minced.

Marinate as needed and desired. Remove from marinade. Season with sea salt and white pepper. Grill to order. Season again as necessary. Toss with green olive jam to coat. Serve with chilled fennel-radish salad, fried Marcona Almonds, Olives and a Cilantro infused Yogurt “drizzle” (optional).



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