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.
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.
Then he cut the empty little heads in half.
I just stood there taking pictures.
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.
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.
Bill also chopped up some garlic, a shallot, and sliced up some roasted red peppers we had in a jar in the fridge.
Next he added the peppers and the tomato puree.
And he gave it all a good stir,
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.
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.