Octopus is not a common dish. I do not recall any dishes in my childhood that included octopus.Even though we lived at the Jersey Shore all summer where we enjoyed almost every kind of sea food, I do not remember ever seeing octopus. Octopus was not something I had ever eaten until my student days in Europe. In Italy and in Greece octopus was a standard.
Some forty years ago it was in the Greek seaside town of Galaxidi that I first experienced the delight of grilled octopus.To tenderize the octopus, fishermen swung the octopod by the tentacles to clobber it against the pilings on the docksides. The octopus was served with nothing more than lemon.Later, In Naples, I recall a “fritto misto” that included octopus.
Since those days, octopus was all but forgotten.Then, recently, with the advent of the Korean grocery chain H-Mart, octopus came back into the picture. I also found octopus on 9th Street. Perhaps they had always been there, but I had never noticed. The thought of using octopus captured my kitchen imagination.Octopus came two ways. There were the full size versions such as I knew from Europe, but there was also the baby variety. The full size octopus carries a rather hefty price tag. Baby octopus are easily affordable and just as tasty. Octopus makes a wonderful sauce for pasta.
Young Man and the Sea
I based the following recipe on ideas from Google Italy and from David Pasternak’s “Young Man and the Sea.” Pasternak uses squid and potatoes. In this version I substitute baby octopus for the squid. If you really want to double up on the carbs, you can easily add this potato version to a nice bowl of penne: something I have done with pleasure.
What you need
The Mise-en-place: getting everything together. The most important step in cooking is to have all ingredients prepared and ready to use.
Plate and serve family style
Octopus and Potatoes