I have eaten octopus at Japanese restaurants – pondered those big tentacles at the fish market – eaten Vietnamese style stir-fried baby octopus many times – marvelled at the giant squid at the Te Papa museum in Wellington, New Zealand. This glazed octopus is the synthesis of those experiences.
It took a bit of experimentation to get this right. Octopus is made up of proteins that need to be cooked for an extended period of time. Otherwise, it is not tender. The octopus is braised in a vegetable and red wine stock for a couple of hours. It is then grilled with balsamic vinegar and chilli glaze.
There is some controversy about the sustainability of octopus. There is also the ethics of eating what appears to be an intelligent living thing. This New Yorker article on Why Not Eat Octopus? sums up the issues well. When eating any living thing, we need to be respectful of that life. Octopus are amazing creatures and very tasty!
The interesting texture and taste of the glazed octopus deserved an appropriately robust sauce. The black garlic anchovy puree proved to be the ideal accompaniment. If you can’t get black garlic, roast a head of garlic slowly for at least an hour and use that.
This makes a good main course if served together with a salad. A smaller helping makes a good appetizer or tapas dish.
Balsamic glazed octopus on a black garlic and anchovy puree
Balsamic glazed octopus
Balsamic glazed octopus
- Heat the oil and butter in a skillet
- Add roughly chopped onion
- Cut head of garlic across its width. Lay cut side down in the skillet with the onions
- Once the onions are softening, add the chopped celery, and chopped carrot
- Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes
- Add the roughly chopped tomatoes and stir in
- Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 more minutes
- Add coriander seeds, pepper corns, and paprika
- Add red wine vinegar, red wine, and water.
- Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes
- Add some olive oil to the the base of a casserole dish
- Wash the octopus tentacles and place in the casserole dish.
- Pour the vegetables and stock into the casserole dish and cover
- Place in the oven at 140 degC for about 2 hours
- Start testing for tenderness at 1.5 hours. Remove when tender.
- Once the octopus is tender, remove from the vegetables and stock and allow to cool
- Once cool, the purple skin should rub off easily with a paper towel
- Mix 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp sugar, and 1 Tbsp chilli jam
- Pour into a skillet and reduce by half
- Add the octopus to the skillet and cook 1 minute each side.
- Transfer octopus to the grill or broiler and cook until starting to char
Black garlic and anchovy puree
- Blend together the black garlic, olive oil, anchovies, and lemon juice.
- Apply a layer of black garlic and anchovy puree to the plate and place the glazed octopus on top of it.