29 July 2011

I got brave enough today to buy a couple of octopus in the market.  I was planning to make a cajun seafood soup and decided I had put off including octopus in the recipe for too long.  They are weird creatures to be sure as they have no bone structure and take on the shape of whatever container they are in.

The first part of the process in preparing octopus is to drop them into a pot of boiling water for 30 seconds or 4 minutes, depending on the recipe.

This is how they looked after coming out of the boiling water.  The tentacles were no longer limp but quite firm and rubbery.  The little suction cups on the tentacles still wanted to hold on to any surface they came into contact with.

The next step in the process was to cut off the octopus’ head.  I have to say this was not my favorite part of the whole deal, but somewhat interesting as a dissection.  Having never done this before, I wasn’t sure where the head ended and the tentacles began.  The first head came off with little trouble other than it was tough to cut.  When cutting into the next one, I must have punctured the ink sack as purple black ink began spreading all over the place.

Once the heads were removed and the tentacles separated, I put them on top of a layer of dry spices; cilantro, cajun seasoning…  Then I put a lid on the dish and put it in the oven for 4 hours.  When it came out of the oven, the meat was still a bit chewy so when I do this again, I will leave it in the oven for an hour or two longer.  Once out of the oven, the meat was cut into bite sized pieces and I added it to the soup along with the rice.  The extra 20 minutes of cooking time in the soup tenderized the octopus.

The soup was a big hit and I am no longer afraid to buy octopus in the market.

Here is the recipe:

Into your soup stock add cajun flavoring and salt to taste.  I usually add red chili powder, cajun spice, cilantro, salt and a bit of rocoto paste.  I also add a package of tomato sauce (we buy them in packages rather than cans).

Bring the stock to the boiling point and add sauteed garlic and onions.  Also add 1 cup of rice and stir.  After 10 minutes, add potatoes cut into small pieces.  After another ten minutes add shrimp, scallops, fish, and octopus.  The soup should be ready to serve as soon as the shrimp turn pink and the fish turns white…usually only a minute or two.

Sometimes I add other vegetables like celery or peppers, but didn’t have any today.  Also, I like to serve the soup over a hunk of Queso Fresco (cheese).  Enjoy!

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