This year I have received, and continue to receive, some very special birthday gifts which tickle me pink! But taking and taking makes me feel greedy, so I thought to share my secret and most prized recipe as a way to thank the generosity – my ultimate octopus soup. A meal which I could happily eat every day for the rest of my life, as you shall too once you savour its delights!
The first step is to source the freshest octopus you can get your hands on. Look for one which is alive and with the biggest available. Like an old cow, the bigger the octopus the more flavoursome it is. And also like an old cow, it is essential to break down its tough, rubbery texture with a little extra love – mechanical tenderisation. As a traditionalist, I prefer to achieve this by bashing the octopus against a reef rock, where the salty sea naturally disinfects the octopus’ from any existing parasites and cleanses it from debris and impurities. This can be the most fun part, as it releases stress. If rock-reef is not within your grasp, a large rolling pin or steel mallet will do the trick.
Once your octopus is nice and tender, the next step is to remove its beak. Pinch the octopus’ mouth pushing it out of its cavity as much as possible. Take care to not insert fingers in that nasty orifice, as the hooked beak may snap or you could discover some unknown clawed and angry animal laying dormant within it itching to harm. Better to neutralise it with a very sharp pair of scissors or a knife.
As this point, using a cleaver sever the head from the tentacles in one clean swoop. Open the head, remove the organs, taking care not to pierce the ink sac, as its bitter poison could ruin the meal.
Next, cut the octopus into bite size pieces, place into seawater with 2 cloves of garlic so to infuse a little pungency into its flavour. Depending on how well you have tenderised your octopus, gently simmer until cooked. As a rule of thumb, gentle beatings require 1 hour, moderately beatings require ½ an hour and for brutal beatings, a quick 15 simmer will suffice. Due to fossil energy, I think it my duty to always opt for the latter.
Once tender, some chefs opt to remove the skin and the larger suckers, I prefer to leave them intact – I love to play with the suckers on my tongue just before biting into them – fun and flavour, why waste the extra oomph? To serve, add extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and enjoy the ultimate mauveliscious soup!
For the health-conscious looking to shed some extra kilos, octopus soup will definitely aid their diet, whilst providing an excellent source of sustenance. Next time you’re at the fish market, grab an octopus, or two, and enjoy the ocean’s hidden gem. It thoroughly deserves to wear the most edible seafood crown. (I scoff at the claim that sharks are the kings of the ocean, let the octopus rule my platter!)
Annabelle @ The Art of Flag-waving