We Puerto Ricans love Octopus. The favored way of preparing it is in octopus salad, where the cooked and
sliced octopus is combined with herbs, garlic and onions and served over steamed rice or in sandwiches—that’s right, octopus sandwiches. Don’t knock it till you try it. In the Mediterranean they’ve been preparing octopus for over a thousand years. The following recipe is grilled octopus – Greek style. It’s innovative in that the octopus is cooked in its own liquid with a wine cork added (supposedly to help in the reduction of the liquid).
I like this recipe because it minimizes the cooking time. The problem with octopus is that if it’s cooked too long it becomes rubbery. In my experience it should have minimal boiling, otherwise you’ll be chewing on rubber. This recipe can be prepared on a grill or, my favorite, seared in skillet and then served. Either way gives you a great, tasty dish. Served over steamed white rice, it’s a memorable meal.
GREEK GRILLED OCTOPUS
1 medium to large octopus, beak and ink-sac removed (most octopi are already cleaned when purchasing)
1/3 cup dry red wine
Balsamic or red wine vinegar
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Fresh or dried Greek oregano
Salt to taste (preferably sea salt)
Juice from half a lemon
1. Wash octopus under cold running water. Then place (with a wine cork) in a pot over high heat and cover.
2. Allow the octopus to boil for 5-8 minutes. Remove the lid and have a look-see if the liquid has been released. The octopus should be almost covered in liquid.
3. Replace the cover and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 10 minutes, checking occasionally to see if there’s enough braising liquid. You may add some more water and continue to braise until the octopus is fork-tender.
4. Remove from heat. Add the wine, 3 tablespoons vinegar, and oregano. Allow the octopus to steep until the liquid has cooled or, better still, place in the refrigerator overnight.
5. If you’re grilling the octopus: preheat gas grill to high. You may cut the octopus into pieces now or after it’s been grilled. Take the octopus out of the liquid and place in a bowl, add about 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, a splash of vinegar, oregano and pepper. Salt is optional. Place octopus on a grill and cook about 2-3 minutes on both sides. Remove and place on a serving platter. Drizzle with more olive oil, a squeeze of lemion juice, a good sprinkling of oregano, and a little salt.
6. If you are not grilling and want to prepare it on the kitchen range: take the octopus out of the liquid and place in a bowl. You may cut the octopus into bite-sized pieces at this time. Add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil, a splash of vinegar, oregano, pepper and some sea salt, if needed. Heat a skillet or, preferably, a cast-iron pan, and sear the octopus 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and place on a serving platter. Drizzle with more olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, a sprinkle of oregano and sea salt if desired.
Yield: about 4 servings.