Octopus preparation applies to the "octopus with potatoes" recipe, featured in the seafood section of the website
Often, when you buy octopus in Italy, fishmongers sell it already cleaned and tenderised. Alternatively, follow my instruction and in a few minutes, your octopus will be ready for cooking.
Tenderising the octopus:
The best thing you can do is to take a rounded wooden stick (or a meat pounder) and to beat it hard, for about 10 minutes, on its the head (the area around the eyes) and on the tentacles all their way long. This operation will stretch the fibres and make the meat tender. When you beat the octopus, be reasonably hard, otherwise you get a mashed octopus! It is preferable to beat the octopus after having cleaned it.
There are other two ways to tenderise an octopus:
The first method is to fill a pan with lightly salted water, bring it to boil and then plunge the octopus in and quickly take it out.
Generally, this method works well with a small sized octopus. Do this 4-5 times and each time bring the water back to boil before plunging the octopus back in (clean the octopus before plunging).
The second method is to add, when boiling the octopus, a couple of bottle corks into the pan.
So, try these different ways, but remember that there is nothing better than beating it with a stick (it is also a good stress reliever!)
Cleaning the octopus:
Well, this is not the best thing to do early in the morning (have a nice coffee first!) and asking the fishmonger to do it for you is always the best option. However, it is an easy operation and when you are use to it, you can clean an octopus in few minutes.
Remove the beak making a pressure at its bottom with your thumbs.
You will notice that above the octopus head is a pocket -like structure divided by a central membrane.
Cut the membrane with a scissors.
Turn the pocket inside out in order to expose all the contents.
With a scissors, cut the small membranes that keep the contents together.
Remove all the contents with your hands and dispose it.
Take away all the loose pieces.
Finally cut the pipe structure with the scissors.
Now, with the help of the running water, rinse everything well in order to remove the last loose pieces.
In the end, your octopus should look like this one.
Turn the pocket the right way around.
Remove the eyes and dispose them. Rinse the eye sockets well.
Finally, give a quick rinse to the tentacles, especially the suckers.
Now, if you have not yet tenderised the octopus, do it and then you can continue with your cooking.
Federico Pezzaioli is an ex-badass Italian Paratrooper on a mission - to make creating delicious authentic Italian food really easy. He researches, writes and photographs each recipe with the same attention to detail he used to apply to packing his parachute.
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