Spanish Style Grilled Octopus
A few things about the octopus.
Octopus has become one of the most desired seafood in the past year. Because of it's popularity we have to remember that this product can easily be overfished. In Spain, some o the fishing industry have recognized this and have created an association that encourages the artisanal fishers to commit to certified sustainability. The northern region of Spain appears to have grasped this concept but in Denia, they are not part of the certified group but their method of catching octopuses is a modernized version of the ancient method and there are only 2 boats that are dedicated to octopus fishing. They also stop fishing totally for one month in the fall to ensure that over fishing is controlled a bit..
Spain is trying to build an octopus aquaculture but it comes with challenges. They have been able to breed octopuses in captivity but it is the 50ish days after the eggs are laid that are still under development. A female octopus at year 3-5 will mate and lay 200,000-400,000 eggs. The incubation period is difficult for the female as she does not leave the eggs to find nourishment. She doesn't sleep or eat but fans the water surrounding the eggs for this period until the eggs hatch. It is this method of circulating the water that needs more research to make the aquaculture work. This nurturing obviously take a toll on her and once the eggs hatch, she dies. Although the male does not stick around, he too dies around 2 months after mating and so ends their life cycle. Hatched eggs are easily farmed as all you have to do is feed them and they grow approximately 5% a day. In a year they can grow up to 4-5 kilos. Ideally, octopus are harvested at 500-750 grams or more.
Place a 1 kilo octopus on a baking sheet lined with foil. Squeeze 1 lemon over the octopus, seal it with foil and bake it at 400C for 2-3 hours. The octopus will have a purple hue and have shrunk in half. Finding an octopus of this size may be a challenge and frozen ones work amazingly.
While the octopus is baking, prepare the garnish.
2 Tbsp parsley leaves
1/2 cup capers that have drained and dried for an hour.
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced and placed in 1/2 cup of milk.
1 cup neutral oil for deep frying. Remember to use a narrow tall pot to prevent excessive splattering.
Heat the oil to 365-380F. Starting with the parsley, drop onto the hot pot, stir for 15 seconds and remove to paper towel to drain. Now do the same with the capers but this will take approx. 1 minute. Drain and pat dry the garlic chips and add to the oil. cook till they are evenly golden then drain. Sprinkle salt over all the garnish and set aside.
2 Tbsp crushed garlic
1 lemon both zest and juice
2 tsp good sherry vinegar
1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
2 Tbsp oil.
Combine all the ingredients and whisk till emulsified. Season and set aside.
8-12 fingerling potatoes par boiled
Grill the octopus on the grill just long enough to get some markings and add smokiness (no more than 30-60 sec.), chop the octopus into 3/4 inch pieces and place in a bowl. Add in 8-12 halved fingerling potatoes that have been par boiled and grilled similarly to the octopus. Add the vinaigrette and toss. On a plate lay a swipe of aioli as a bed for the octopus. Place the octopus and potatoes on top then sprinkle with the parsley, capers and garlic chips. top with a sprinkling of a good salt and pepper and serve. This dish can be served hot, cold or room temperature. We enjoy this with a beautiful Temperanillo.