Octopus salad

Yield: 6 servings

Measure Ingredient
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Ain't a bit of squid here! Instead we fall back on the squid's digitally impaired cousin, the octopus... The author of the original article, Meryl Constance, cautions buyers to make sure that the octopi one buys are pre-tenderized. She notes that traditional Australian methods for tenderizing octopi include using rocks, bricks, cement mixers and even washing machines. (No kiddin'!) Raw Materials first encountered this salad in Argentina, where it could be bought from top-flight delicatessen counters for an instant picnic. The pink of the octopus pieces with the green of the herbs makes this a very pretty salad. Prepare a 2 to 3 kg octopus and precook it. [See note below. S.C.] While it is cooking, whisk together in a glass bowl 300 mL good olive oil, the juice of 1 or 2 lemons (taste and stop when the balance is right), salt, pepper and generous amounts of finely chopped garlic, shallots, chives and parsley. The dressing should be thick with the herbs. When the octopus is tender, drain it, cut it up into generous chunks and, while it is still warm, fold it into the dressing. Serve the salad at room temperature, with plenty of crusty bread.

NOTE: Chances are if you buy your cephalopod in a supermar-ket in the US it will already be cooked. If not, follow these steps from earlier in the article...

"Cut through the head/body above and below the eyes. Discard this section. Slit the back of the head and turn it inside out, discarding all the contents (unless you want to keep the ink sac for a particular recipe). Push the beak (in the center of the star of tentacles) through and out...Skinning is quite unnecessary and very fiddly. If you prefer to do so, it is much easier after cooking than before.

A large octopus needs precooking for many dishes. Put it in a saucepan and just cover with lightly salted water. Simmer gently until the point of a knife slides easily into the meat++maybe one hour, maybe longer.

The deep mauve stock which results need not be discarded when you drain the octopus. It is very rich (in fact, it will often set to a jelly in the fridge) and makes a wonderful soup..." Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From Meryl Constance' column in the Sydney Morning Herald, "Raw Materials". 3/2/93. Courtesy, Mark Herron.

Posted by Stephen Ceideburg

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