15 August 2012

BBQ explorations: in a grilled octopus's garden

My next-door neighbours are hyper-friendly, cacophonous Greeks (five of the 60 000+ of them in our fine city). They literally have barbecued-something eight days a week and as result, they're also experts at adding that fresh charcoal-barbecue smell to my laundry-line wash
However, they always seem to cook the same meats and though their grillades taste pretty good,  I hoped to one-up them by grilling up this octopus platter:
[Grilled octopus. Omnomnomnom.]
... which started off as this critter:
[My eight-legged supper]
Taking off on Peter Minakis' mouth-watering guidelines on grilling octopus (from his ace blog, I forgoed (forwent?) cooking the octopus with a cork because a) it sounds gross, especially if the cork tissue starts disintegrating in the water, b) the wine bottle cork I had lying around might have been hybrid plastic/cork, and c) I don't think a single cork is enough to tenderize an entire octopus*.

Awesome food science writer and author Harold McGee says leave the cork stoppers in the wine bottles when cooking octopus. Sorry Lidia, Mario and the gang... you're still loved regardless.

If you can find fresh octopus, I am jealous. This one came frozen from Mourelatos.
[Octopus underside. Notice the mouth in the centre; this is what you need to cut out, or it will bite you while you eat.]
Grilling octopus is pretty much child's play, though I doubt small childrens (or even squeamish adults) would want to touch this). Seriously... it's not like you have to harpoon it and wrestle it – it's already murdered for you!

Cooking a frozen one just involved thawing, cleaning (cutting out the mouth and eyes), and then dipping the tentacles in simmering water to curl them prior to steaming them. Once they're steamed, they get marinated and then grilled and then eaten.
[Dipping the tentacles in boiling water prior to steaming them makes them curly and cute, like perming them.]
Were my neighbours jealous? They probably would have been if they had seen it (had it not been inhaled by hungry, hungry hippos first). 

* According to this study from 2001, enzymes from natural cork stoppers were proven to be able to decompose cellulose and cell walls of other plantstuffs but doesn't mention anything about octopuses. I rest my case.


  1. Oh, it makes me sad being unable to eat octopus just right when I want it. It is considered as one of the most expensive dish in our country. I guess that would be perfect in a hot barbecue grill. Here we use squid in grilling.

  2. I've never tried octopus in the barbecue grill before. And it made me really jealous to see this post.