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Old 02-18-2012, 05:32 PM   #1
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Need help with octopus tapas

Wondering how to really tenderize my cooked octopus I got from the fish martket. My goal is to make a braised version of Galician style octopus. (Octopus, olive oil, potatoes and paprika) This version is in bite-size chunks served as tapas, both times I've had it, it's been served in Spanish latas or cazuelas.

I've tried to make it twice and although the flavor is where I want it, the octopus is rubbery! Both times I braised the octopus, potatoes and olive oil together in the oven for at least an hour and although the potatoes were perfect, the octopus was chewy. I really want melt in your mouth texture like I had at the restaurants.

I am considering:

1. boiling octopus again (I bought it cooked) then braising
2. Braising longer, like 2+ hours? In oven or maybe on the stove with more liquid and adding potatoes the last 45 min.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 02-18-2012, 05:40 PM   #2
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From my experience, the bigger the octopus, the longer you should braise it. I would cook any octopus at least 3 hours. Larger ones even up to 5 hours. The only way you can tell is to check it to make sure it is done, and if it isn't put it back in the pot, possibly add more liquid if necessary, and keep it going until it starts to tenderize to your liking....
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Old 02-18-2012, 05:49 PM   #3
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I think octopus might be in that category of things to be cooked quickly and lightly. But there are sure a lot of stories around with suggestions about tenderizing. The most common says Greek fishermen beat the octopus against a rick before cooking. One authority says one hour is the cooking limit. Another story is that Italians cook them with corks. I don't believe that one. At least I don't believe the corks do anything. Maybe a century ago. Modern corks are thoroughly processed to rid them of anything that would affect meat. Another one says put about twenty octopuses in a washing machine on spin cycle for a while. Another just says pound them. And another says a little vinegar will do it. Sounds like most other tough meat that you won't or can't cook for a long time. Beat it or give it the acid treatment. But then, I've never cooked one.

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Old 02-18-2012, 05:55 PM   #4
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Octopus, like all its relatives, requires either very short or very long cooking. Anything in between causes it to become rubbery.

Depending on size, an hour is the minimum time it should be braised to achieve tenderness.

One of the reasons I prefer using baby octopus is that I can cook them in far less time. Typically, 45 minutes does it.

Also, mignonnette (and, btw, welcome to DC), in dishes like you describe, the octopus is often cooked until tender, and then added to the other ingredients. You might want to give that a try.
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Old 02-18-2012, 06:28 PM   #5
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Thanks for the great ideas . . .

. . . And the welcome, HistoricFoodie!

I think I will go with the longer cook time, sans potatoes, and with more liquid as Rocklobster suggests since it is already cooked anyway and firm in texture.

Love the ideas and video link, GLC! I think in order for the octopus to be really tender, I need to whack it on that specific rock. Time for a vacation! I have read about the corks. I also read to add a genuine copper penny to the pot when boiling octopus if you don't have one of the Galician pots used traditionally.

Thanks again everyone! I'm thrilled to have found this forum.
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Old 02-18-2012, 06:34 PM   #6
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Since I was curious I went looking and found this: How to Prep Octopus for Cooking Later

I haven't tried it, but I do find about.com to be pretty accurate.
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Old 02-18-2012, 06:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mignonette View Post
I think in order for the octopus to be really tender, I need to whack it on that specific rock. Time for a vacation!
I wonder if that would work with IRS.

Deductible Expense: Work-Related Travel
Occupation: Food Writer
Travel Destination: Greek Islands
Purpose: Tenderize Octopus on the "Beating Rock" (Note: Rock only works in summer.)
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Old 02-18-2012, 06:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GLC

I wonder if that would work with IRS.

Deductible Expense: Work-Related Travel
Occupation: Food Writer
Travel Destination: Greek Islands
Purpose: Tenderize Octopus on the "Beating Rock" (Note: Rock only works in summer.)
Right! Works for Tony B! :)
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Old 02-18-2012, 07:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankZ
Since I was curious I went looking and found this: How to Prep Octopus for Cooking Later

I haven't tried it, but I do find about.com to be pretty accurate.
This is a great link. The braising section was really helpful, thank you!
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Old 02-18-2012, 10:52 PM   #10
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Thanks to you all, it looks like I cooked myself out of a trip to Greece! Your suggestions worked, braised 2 hours at low heat with more liquid and they turned out tasty and tender. Thanks again!
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