Is it just us or is octopus showing up on everyone’s menu these days? We love an eight-legged cephalopod for dinner and are always looking for a great, easy way to prepare it. It doesn’t get too much easier than Sam Talbot’s recipe for Slow Cooked Octopus, which you can find on the menu at Imperial No. Nine. Start with the tentacles of a cooked beast, and the rest is pie.
“Cooking octopus, and then of course eating it, has become one of my favorite pastimes,” says Talbot. “When I was 27, while in Rome, I had octopus that changed my life: in its simplest of forms, dressed with olive oil, olive juice, and balsamic. It was, hands-down, pure love. Since then, I’ve tried to master the art of octopus. This isn’t like the Roman version, but it’s still all love.”
Sam Talbot’s Slow Cooked Octopus
1 pound cooked octopus tentacles
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 lime, juiced and zested
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
1 shallot diced
1 tablespoon lemongrass, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeño
1/4 cup fried cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoon fried basil, chopped
2 tablespoons agave
1 teaspoon chili paste
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons garlic oil
salt and pepper, to taste
To prepare, Sam says:
When I’m at home and don’t have all the modern machinery of my restaurant kitchen, I use a method to slow cook the octopus until tender. I place the raw octopus in salted water (should be as salty as ocean water) for four hours in the refrigerator. Rinse under cold water to get the salt off.
Make a court bouillon with three parts water, one part wine, lemon, oranges, garlic, and whatever spices and herbs you like. I tend to use whole cinnamon bark, coriander and mustard seeds, and a sachet of fresh herbs. I also toss in two corks from wine bottles — a trick that actually works! Bring the pot of liquid to a gentle boil, and cook the octopus for three to four hours depending on the size. You can test if the octopus is ready by gently piercing it where the tentacles meet the body, and if the knife goes in easily it’s ready. After the octopus cools to room temperature, cut off tentacles from the head and cluster. From there, I cook it really briefly a la plancha to get a nice char before tossing in the sauce.
In a bowl, combine all the above ingredients, minus the octopus, to make a vinaigrette. After you’ve warmed the octopus on the plancha, spoon the vinaigrette over top.