Octopus Demystified

Embracing The Octopus, Tenderly

Eight Arms to Braise, Then Grill

By MARK BITTMAN
Published: October 16, 1999

As an ancient denizen of the deep – its ancestors lived at least 200 million years ago — octopus has long been mysterious, thanks to its appearance, intelligence, habits, and remarkable defense mechanisms. (Not only can it shoot a confusing jet of ink to cover its retreat, its skin can change color, almost like a flashing neon sign.) But strange as it may be, the octopus is neither unfamiliar nor uncommon: It thrives in warm and temperate waters throughout the world, feeding on crustaceans and fellow mollusks (technically, octopus is a molluscan cephalopod). Happily, for us at least, it also develops a lovely flavor and texture, as long as it is handled correctly.
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Debate Rages in South Korea, How Many Octopus Heads Is It Safe To Eat?

I like calamari stuffed, marinated, grilled, fried.  Pasta with squid’s ink sauce is fine with me. I have never seen anyone eating octopus heads nor have i tried this feat. The Independent quotes a Reuters story noting South Korean warning on eating octopus heads (October 22, 2010) which they say is a popular dish in South Korea because of its supposed aphrodisiac powers.(Read more…)

Octopus Garden is a specialty seafood market located along the far reaches of Avenue U in Bensonhurst. Operated by Vincent and Pina Cutrone, the unassuming corner storefront long been known to chefs like Eric Ripert of Le Bernadin as the go-to place for fresh octopus and sepia.

The nine year-old Brooklyn fish market specializes in, but is not limited to, all things cephalopod, a class that includes squid, octopus, and cuttlefish. The octopuses Cutrone sells range from just a few ounces to five pounds, or more. Sepia are hand-cleaned and tenderized in-house by a large, basin-sized machine that pummels the fish: it can be seen just behind the display counter toward the back of the shop. Tenderization is necessary: cephalopod cooking is a vaguely mysterious process complicated by folk wisdom and family secrets, proving to be difficult even to some professional chefs — and one of the reasons that many restaurants leave octopus off their menus. Recipes often involve a few wine bottle corks and a slow simmering pot, as corks are rumored to contain a tenderizing enzyme. In other recipes, a good rock beating is advised (Octopus Garden does not sell rocks).
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By MARK BITTMAN
Published: September 08,1999

A RAW octopus resting on ice at the seafood store is definitely the ugliest thing in the vicinity — nothing like the many-hued snappers or even the white, pristine cleaned squid. No, this floppy, gray, suction-cupped monster seems to have been born with a natural defense aimed directly at the home cook. ”I am,” it growls, ”too hideous to eat.”
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