A romantic home-cooked meal, for your significant other, dinner parties with your dearest friends of a family get-together feast-all of these involve dishes you want to stand out and be memorable. There are only so many times you can get creative with chicken, pork and beef as your main course. This is why octopus-something most people only order at a luxurious restaurant- is sure to wow your dinner guests when cooked at home.
Unfamiliarity makes this meal option intimidating when in fact it is rather easy. Read on to learn how to prepare an octopus from scratch to a master chef worthy dinner plate.
Cleaning and Preparing your Octopus
Octopus can be brought fresh or frozen. For your first-time cooking octopus, buying is frozen is recommended as the ink sac and beak is usually cleaned out beforehand. The thawing process also tenderizes the meat.
For octopus that hasn’t been cleaned beforehand, the process isn’t difficult. Simply, slice the head in half and scoop out the hard part, called the beak, and the ink sac. Also remove the brain, eyes and other unappetizing gunk by turning its bag inside out and using a spatula or your hands to scoop out the mushy white stuff.
The octopus can be cooked whole or cut into pieces and then cooked. As cutting meat, especially that of octopus, can create a mess, cooking it whole is a lot easier-especially if you are preparing a larger meal. One pound of octopus will usually make one portion of a main course, so it is a good idea to get a large octopus of about 5 pounds to serve a meal for four, or a smaller 3 pound one for two, since the octopus size reduces as it cooks.
Thaw the frozen octopus in the fridge at least 24 hours prior to cooking it and make sure it is fully thawed before cooking.
Cooking the Octopus
Octopus has a lot of water weight, meaning it absorbs any flavor it is cooked with and shrink through the cooking process. There are many ways to cook octopus, as with any type of meat. Before grilling or roasting your octopus, it is a good idea to boil it first to make the meat a big firmer, and collect some excellent octopus’ stock.
Take a pan big enough for the octopus to fit in and fill it more than half with water. Wait for the water to reach boiling temperature, then dip the octopus several times, before putting it in completely and covering the pot. For a 5-pound octopus, give it 15 minutes before using a knife to check if it is cooked. The knife should go all the way through.
Now, it is up to you to get creative with what recipe to follow. The whole octopus can be roasted in a Dutch oven with a nest of herbs, or cut up and grilled in a covered grilled, then seasoned with olive oil and fresh lemon juice.
Now that you know how to cook a luxury restaurant quality meal, all that is left to do is plate it to woo your guests!