Baby Octopus · Seafood · When Bill Cooks

Fun With Baby Octopi

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A while back we bought a bag of frozen baby octopus. 

Or would that be "baby octopi?"  Either way, they were frozen.  Now we've bought a larger octopus before, and with that we made ceviche, which was very good.  And we cook up some squid every now and then as well.  But we've never bought frozen baby octopi before.  We didn't know what we were going to do with them, but at least we'd have them in the freezer, ready to go (or to thaw) when the mood struck.

This past weekend, the mood struck Bill.

So out came the package, and into a bowl to thaw went the little frozen cephalopods.

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No recipe involved…Bill just went with his gut.

And speaking of gut, sort of, if you buy baby octopi, you will need to see if whoever harvested and packaged them removed the beak.  It's a sharp little cartilaginous bit that would be unpleasant to discover in your mouth.  Ours still had them, so Bill sliced off that part of the head.   

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Then he cut the empty little heads in half.

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And in half again.

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And then sliced the legs apart.

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I just stood there taking pictures.

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And since I was taking pictures, I figured I'd try out a macro lens, just to see how things would look up close.

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I agree.  They look kind of blurry.  But kind of cool, too.

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As he beheaded and dismembered the little creatures, he put them in a bowl with some ice.  I chose the bowl.  I thought they would look best with a blue background.  Not that they cared.

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Bill was thinking some tomatoey flavor would work nicely, so I rummaged around in the freezer and found a small container of roasted tomatoes from last summer.  Once they were thawed, I put them in the food mill and separated the "meat" from the skins and seeds.

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There was olive oil in there, too, from when I roasted them.  Doesn't that look good?  I mean the picture below these words, not the one above.  Although I like the one above, too.  The food mill is a great tool.  Very basic and efficient.  And not as hard to clean as you might imagine.

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Bill also chopped up some garlic, a shallot, and sliced up some roasted red peppers we had in a jar in the fridge. 

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Then he softened the garlic and shallot in some olive oil.

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Next he added the peppers and the tomato puree.

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And he gave it all a good stir,

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added a splash of white wine,

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and let it simmer for a bit.  Five to ten minutes, I think.

Then he poured in the octopi (he'd poured off the water from the melted ice, first).  He left two of them whole, by the way.  We were curious to see how they'd cook that way in comparison to how they'd cook chopped up.

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He stirred everything together and left it to simmer gently.

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About ten minutes later, this is how it looked.

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The octopi were cooked perfectly - not rubbery at all – and the flavor of the sauce was wonderful.  I believe he put some oregano in there as well, along with salt and some ground red pepper for just a bit of warmth.

With this, we also had an Indian rice and lentil dish, and a big green salad with a homemade balsamic viniagrette.  All the flavors worked together, and everyone – kids included, enjoyed the meal.

Oh, and the whole octopi?  They cooked just fine – no different from the chopped up pieces.  We just made sure to get rid of the beaks before we ate them.

They do look a bit creepy, left whole, don't they?  This one looks like an angry, tentacled conehead.  Or worse.

Ah, isn't cooking exciting?!

P.S.  I just realized that the accepted plural of "octopus" is actually "octopuses," but I've decided not to re-write this post just to correct it.  I also like the word "octopi" better anyway. 

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4 thoughts on “Fun With Baby Octopi

  1. So glad to hear that someone else loves octopi. I have been eating that my whole life. I have a great recipe from my mom that I use every now and then. Your way sounds yummy too and similar I might add. Yeah!, to you and your family for being brave in trying something peole in the south use as bait.

  2. LOL! Your post reminds me of the time I went to a Sicilian restaurant in London with my ex. Someone ordered a dish with the little cooked octopi (I prefer that term too) and they looked so cute, like little plastic bath toys. Well Dylan (my ex) was a little freaked out by them. He got up at some point to use the restroom and my friend Tavis and I hid one in his napkin.
    When he came out of the bathroom we told him he had something on his face and when he used the napkin the little octopus flew out at him and he screamed like a little girl! Oh, it was hilarious. Dylan was okay with that, he always did stuff like that to me so it was all in good fun.
    I bought a little toe ring after I arrived state-side that had an octopus on it… just to remind me of how funny that was.
    I’d try it, but I’m allergic to seafood. Anything that lives in the water makes me violently ill. 🙁

  3. Found your blog through Pinterest and have been browsing your recipes – they all look great! I am definitely going to give this one a shot. I love octopus and living in Japan you can find them fresh at just about every store you walk into. Yumm!

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