The octopus is famous for its bulbous head, enormous eyes, and four pairs of long arms. The stuff of legends and nightmares, octopi have been featured in stories, artwork, and meals galore. But how do you eat this distinctive looking, bilaterally symmetrical sea creature?
Here are eight down-to-earth (or shall we say, down-to-sea) ways to indulge in the octopus. And yes, the number of preparations we are featuring is no accident. Eight is great—just ask an octopus!
It can be tough to master the art of perfectly cooking an octopus. So for ease, you can opt for already-cooked octopus for these dishes. To find pre-cooked octopus, check the sushi section of your local Asian market, ask your fishmonger about it, or check the fish counter at an upscale grocery store.
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Our pal the octopus becomes tender and delicate when slowly simmered. Food & Wine uses their simmered sea creature to create a beautiful salad with potatoes and green beans. Dressed with garlic, parsley, and olive oil, this simple salad boasts extraordinary flavors.
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The not-too-briny, not-too-fishy octopus makes for a wonderful ceviche. In this otherwise-raw preparation, Cindy takes cooked octopus meat, lime juice, red onion, cilantro, and avocado to create a dish that is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the tastebuds. And Cindy includes a bonus recipe for pickled red onions to garnish the ceviche—extra tang and extra color!
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This recipe for octopus linguine comes from The Pasta Book by Gennaro Contaldo (Jamie Oliver's Italian chef mentor). Contaldo states, "as octopus shrinks, it lets out all the lovely flavours of the sea."
For his linguine, Chef Contaldo combines baby octopus with ripe cherry tomatoes, garlic, fresh chiles, anchovy fillets, olives, capers, and parsley for a fresh flavor and brilliant colors.
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Fried squid (calamari) is a popular appetizer at restaurants throughout the world. Its fellow mollusk, octopus, is not as common on the starters' menu, but it makes for a stellar fried dish as well.
The food artists behind Gather Journal have a killer fried baby octopus recipe made simply by dredging the cephalopod in flour, frying it in oil, seasoning it with kosher salt, and garnishing it with lemon wedges.
Baby octopus soup, or zuppa di moscardini, is a simple dish that will culinarily transport you to the blue seas of the Mediterranean. Cookbook author and Tuscany resident Emiko Davies gives her unique take on the dish, adding garlic, red wine, and red wine vinegar. She claims that with soup, layers and texture are key. We agree!
Octopus and squid come from the same family and in this simple recipe from Kali Orexi, they're a seafood match made in heaven. They pair well with the saltiness of the capers, the sweetness of the grape tomatoes, and the variety of dried herbs used (rosemary and thyme).
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This red wine-braised octopus is made by slow-cooking the octopus with red wine, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and a bay leaf. It's tender and flavorful in its simplicity and tastes perfect served over plain rice. A glass of light red wine would provide a lovely complement to the dish as well.
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You can find baby octopus sandwiches at various restaurants here and there, including this gorgeous entry from San Francisco hotspot Naked Lunch. If you can't make it to the Bay Area, their signature delicacy can be recreated in your own kitchen.
Take a fresh, soft bun spread with aioli, add some arugula, a few slices of salami or Spanish chorizo, and a combination of pickles, onions, and capers to produce this outstanding octopus sandwich.
With these eight delicious ways to enjoy octopus, may you dive deeply into feasting upon this sensational sea creature. Have any favorite octopus recipes of your own? Ever had a really delicious octopus dish at a restaurant? Share your tentacled tips with us in the comments below.