OCTOPUSSY - Eight legged crayfish...

 Poached Octopus, Crispy Taro, Baby Watercress Salad

Poached Octopus, Crispy Taro, Baby Watercress Salad

Not many people are into eating Octopus, probably because they don't know how to prepare it properly, it's not served on many restaurants' menus, and they have not yet enjoyed or tasted it's flavour and texture. Since the favourite diet of octopus is crayfish, especially when they are trapped in locals' craypots, you can understand why it would taste like crayfish and have a similar texture to its tail meat.  You can also understand why cray fishermen hate octopus so much when they see one or several of their captured crays eatened from within, leaving just the intact empty shells left in the pot along with the fat culprit.  You can now probably see why i get so many hated culprits given to me by the local cray fishermen.

 

Having grown up in Hawaii, literally in the water and at a young age we were spearing for He'e (octopus) on the reefs. Then we took our catch, pounded them on the seaside rocks to tenderise with sea salt, dried them on clothes lines for several days, then ate them as jerky or as an   appetiser after a light grilling on the BBQ. These were mainly small ones, about 1-2 pounds, so when given my first large one here in Raglan... about 3-4 kilos, I had to experiment with how to cook them.  Mostly in the islands, they are simmered for hours till tender, then onions, taro leaves and often coconut milk is added to finish off this flavourful island dish, he'e luau.  However, these large meaty creatures had to be done a different way to make use of its beautiful and tasty flesh in its legs and body (head).  After some experimentation, I found the best way to prepare these large and tasty creatures, is to remove the eyes and beak from the body, clean out the innards in one big inverted pull, split the head (body) into half (for ease of cooking) then separate all the tentacles from each other.  Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to a boil, then cook off batches of legs (tentacles) and body meat in small batches separately for about 5-10 minutes, till just done.  Don't bring the water to a boil, just a simmer. Octopus is done when a fork is just able to pierce the flesh.  Remove immediately and cool, then remove the tough skin with your hands firmly around the legs, by pulling this off.  If you enjoy the look and texture of the suckers, take care not to pull them off when removing the skin. (see these procedures in the photos) Now you can use the meat in several applications: slice uniformly thin at a diagonal for sashimi, in salads, on crostini or in soft tacos. Or quickly stir-fried lightly, last minute with veges in noodle or rice dishes, and added last minute to a tomato/basil seafood sauce with pasta. Unused legs freeze well for use later. Do enjoy this tasty eight legged crayfish.