Fresh Octopus Salad

This is my own version of my mom’s famous octopus salad. It was a real treat because it was a dish she would make only on special occasions. I remember as a child eagerly awaiting for it to be ready to eat. I would watch her clean and prepare the pulpo with all the love in her heart. I know thats the reason why it tastes so darn delicious. It is by far, her best dish. Though my salad is a definite chart topper, it’s nothing compared to my mama’s.

Octopus is a delicacy and can be found on menus all over the world. There are numerous ways to prepare it: grilled, boiled, fried and tar- tar style. In Korea, people are known to eat it alive. Their method involves no preparation or recipe. You simply wrap the creature with it’s writhing tentacles around chopsticks, dip it into the sauces and chew. It can be a deadly experience if you’re not careful. Maybe I will try it someday. It is believed that live octopus is good for concentration and stamina.

Some people like to associate octopi as dark creatures of the ocean’s depths. You remember Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” when Ursula,  half woman half octopus was depicted as the sea witch? They are mysterious in nature and antisocial, they travel and live alone. Octopi are the only animals in it’s class that can see objects and are known as one of the most intelligent animals in the ocean. Their intelligence allows them the capacity to open jars containing food. They also have an amazing ability to camouflage themselves against predators by changing their color and even their skin texture.

Ingredients

  • 1lb of fresh octopus
  • 1 large red onion (finely chopped)
  • 1 large green or red pepper (de-seeded and finely chopped)
  • 1 8oz. jar of manzanilla olives (halved)
  • 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Bay leaf
  • Half of a large potato or a cork
  • garlic clove

Prep

I suggest that you purchase the octopus already cleaned, because it will make life much easier ;).  Fill a large soup pot so that the octopus can be completely submerged. Bring to a boil. Add salt, garlic clove, bay leaf and a half of a large chopped potato or cork  (makes it more tender for some reason). Last, but not least dunk the octopus in the boiling water three times. Turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and cook for 40 minutes. In the meantime, dice the peppers and red onion, then add the halved manzanilla olives. Set aside. When the octopus is done (should be opaque and tender) drain it in a colander and run it under cold water. Cut into one inch pieces or smaller. (You can cut it before or after you cook it.)

In a large salad bowl, mix all the ingredients together. (minus the potato or cork) Add fresh lime juice, salt, pepper, vinegar and drizzle with extra virgin oil. Refrigerate for an hour before serving.

This simple dish can be put together in a blink of an eye. It can be served as an accompaniment, or as the star of the meal over a bed of buttery garlic rice and a side of plantains. It’s a light, yet satisfying colorful display with a real flavor punch. Enjoy. Buen provecho.

P.S: Pair it with a crisp glass of Rose or an iced cold lager of your choice. I would go with either Dos Equis or Heineken. 🙂

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