What's the trick to making non rubbery octopus?

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15 Comments

CaryNC June 8, 2012
Why not just add cream of tartar to the poaching liquid instead of a cork?
 
dymnyno June 5, 2012
The method used by two of my favorite Greek restaurants, Milos in NY City and Black Olive in Baltimore sounds strange. I have made octopus using this method many times. Starting with a frozen octopus, first thaw 2) In a large pot put one layer of black peppercorns to completely cover the bottom 3) Pour enough red wine vinegar just to barely cover the peppercorns 4) Arrange the octopus in the pot 5) Cover with a very tight lid 6) Simmer the octopus on low-medium heat until a toothpick easily pierces the octopus. 7) Remove from the pot and refrigerate overnight to firm up the octopus. The next day brush with a little olive oil and sear on a grill. 8) Cut into small segments and serve over pasta or in a salad. Oh! and don't forget to throw in a good wine cork(preferably a Constant Cabernet) before putting the lid on the octopus in vinegar and black peppers before cooking!
 
dymnyno June 6, 2012
As Boulangerie has said, tartaric acid collects on a wine cork. This is a naturally occurring substance that is part of wine. We clean our tanks after fermentation to remove tartaric acid (cream of tartar). So it is important that the cork that you use when cooking octopus is used, not new.
 
rt21 June 5, 2012
The rule I learned was cook for 30seconds or 30 minutes, works for me
 
ChefJune June 5, 2012
A Spanish chef taught me about octopus. It is not like calamari. It needs to be cooked twice. First boiled, and then grilled, or sauteed. Otherwise it will be tough and chewy -- or maybe even so tough it won't be chewy!
 
AntoniaJames June 5, 2012
pierino's right . . . Micheal Cressotti (Sushi Samba) recommends that you first massage the octopus with handfuls of coarse salt, until it froths. Rinse, then pound it with a meat hammer or use the traditional Japanese method of pounding with a clean daikon root. Then you drop it slowly into a large oven-proof pot of simmering water (preferably with some aromatics in it) with three wine corks. When the tentacles start to curl, put the pot in a 350 degree oven, covered, for 1 to 1.5 hours (until tender). ;o)
 
passifloraedulis June 5, 2012
What do the wine corks do?
 
AntoniaJames June 5, 2012
I can't answer it, and apparently it's not universally accepted. Italian cooks swear by it. McGee says don't bother:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/05/dining/05curious.html

Here's an interesting short piece, published recently, on the topic:
http://m.smh.com.au/lifestyle/cuisine/masterful-methods-or-merely-myth-20120519-1ywwg.html?page=2 ;o)
 
boulangere June 6, 2012
Tartaric acid (cream of tartar) in crystalline form collects on wine corks. Acids tenderize any protein.
 
pierino June 5, 2012
One mediterranean trick (using the long cook method) is to cook the octopus in simmering water with a wine cork or two in the bath. At intervals dip the octopus out and then plunge it back in.
 
In a similar vein, calamari and larger cuttlefish follow the same "3" rule that bigpan mentions above. For larger squid / cuttlefish, my chef buddies and I will sometimes remove the guts, slice the head open lengthwise, lay it out flat, and use a knife to score the inside surface in a cross-hatch pattern. This breaks up the fibers of the meat a little more and gives a less "boingy" texture.
 
bigpan June 4, 2012
Use the "3" rule - either cook for under 3 minutes, over over 3 hours (stew).
Either way, don't be afraid to beat the "H***" out of it. Tenderize it with a hammer.
I've watched many fishers in Greece slam octopus against the dock to tenderize - it works and tastes great.
 
Summer O. June 4, 2012
This is a great question and thank you for it! Every recipe I read takes forever but when I cook it it takes never. Good to know it is one or the other.
 
ReneePussman June 4, 2012
If you have rubbery octopus, that means you have cooked it improperly. Octopus needs to either be cooked very very quickly, or for a long time to avoid that rubbery texture. I personally prefer a quick sear or flash fry. But I have had awesome braised octopus.
 
Greenstuff June 4, 2012
Cook quick or cook long and slow. Nothing in between.
 
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