There is nothing quite like a perfectly cooked, crispy charred octopus. Whenever I spot this gem on a menu dining out, I’ll be sure to get my fix of it. I spotted a big, beautiful octopus at my local Whole Foods fish market this weekend and decided to give it a go!
After a little research, Andrew and I successfully pulled off a tender, crispy, beautifully cooked octopus for the first time! Several articles I read attribute the tenderness of the octopus to cooking it with a wine cork in the pot. We tried tirelessly to find out the scientific reasoning behind this–whether it is the chemical makeup of the cork or something else. But to our dismay, it still remains an old Italian mystery that seemed to work perfectly! Not only is octopus something different and very healthy, but also looks very impressive and is beautiful for plating.
- 1.5 lbs. of octopus tentacles, cleaned
- 2 lemons, halved
- olive oil
- wine cork
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/2 cup evoo
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 jalapeno, chopped
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Two or three hours ahead of time, start a medium pot with the wine, peppercorns, 2 lemon halves, smashed garlic, wine cork, and a pinch of salt. Place the cleaned octopus tentacles in and cover it with water by an inch. Bring it up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the thickeness of your tentacles. At 45 minutes, I tested the tenderness by poking it with a butter knife and it slid right through easily. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool in the liquid.
Meanwhile, make your chimichurri. Place all ingredients but the olive oil in a bowl and blend with an immersion blender. I find this works better than a food processor to get a more fine texture. Season with salt and pepper and pour the olive oil over it. Allow it to sit for at least an hour for the flavors to marry.
The best way to get a char on the octopus is with a charcoal grill. Heat it to high heat and oil the grates well so your octopus skin doesn’t stick. Remove the octopus from the liquid and toss with a decent amount of olive oil and some freshly ground black pepper.
On a well oiled grill, grill the octopus over high heat until it gets a char. Rotate on each side for a few minutes each until nice and crispy. Remove and plate the octopus with a drizzle of the chimichurri and fresh lemon juice. Serve with some gigante bean garlic puree and sauteed kale for a healthy, Mediterranean dinner, pairing perfectly with a crisp glass of white wine.