Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Barbecued Octopus with Arugula and Mint

While I was on my vacation, I was standing at the seafood counter at a local grocery store when something caught my eye ... a whole octopus.  I've cooked with octopus before, as part of an Iron Chef challenge involving the "secret" ingredient of mussels.  However, this was a big octopus, weighing in at about one and one half pounds.

I must have walked by the seafood counter at least three times, with my cell phone in hand, googling recipes for a whole octopus.  This was a little daunting for me.  I scrolled down, page after page, looking for a recipe that I could do.  I was just about to give up when I came across a recipe from the one person who is probably my most favorite and admired chef ... Mario Batali.  Feeling safe with the knowledge that Chef Batali knows a lot more about cooking than me, I looked at his recipe for Barbecued Octopus with Escarole and Mint and decided that I would give it a try.

I immediately encountered a problem. The store did not have any escarole.  However, I decided to substitute arugula because I thought the peppery taste of arugula would be paired well with the mint.  After adjusting some of the recipe to take into account that the octopus I bought (which was one and one-half pounds) was much less than the three to five pound octopus called for in the recipe. 

Adapted from Mario Batali's recipe on Food Network's website
Serves 3-4

A big octopus, about 3' in length
1 octopus (about 1 and 1/2 pounds, cleaned)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, juiced and zest
1/2 tablespoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 bunch of fresh oregano, chopped
1/2 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of ground sea salt
1 bunch of arugula
1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves, chopped

1. Simmer the octopus.  Place octopus in cold water with a cork and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for about fifteen to eighteen minutes.  Remove, rinse and cut into four pieces.

2.  Marinate the octopus.  In a mixing bowl, stir together the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, red pepper, oregano and black pepper.  Marinate the octopus pieces for about ten minutes.  

3.  Grill the octopus.  Preheat the grill while the octopus is simmering in water.  Place the octopus pieces on the grill.  Cook for about five minutes per side.  Return the octopus to the marinade and cut into bite sized pieces.

4.  Plate the dish.  Arrange the arugula leaves a plate.  Arrange the octopus on the plate and sprinkle with the mint.  


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