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David Ross

Seafood Salads

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Yesterday I visited my fishmonger Mike of Williams Seafood, in his new location in Spokane. (The only stand-alone fish market in town). Mike has both an expanded fresh and frozen selection of seafood in his new shop. On a whim, I bought some frozen baby octopus. I love octopus but had never really thought about cooking it at home until I spotted the little gems. Then I bought some fresh swordfish that Mike had just gotten in. What kind of an octopus dish would go with swordfish?

On the way home I started thinking about seafood salads-we're into the summer season full-swing and a cold, refreshing salad of seafood is perfect for the hot days of summer. I decided to use the baby octopus in a Mediterreanean-style potato salad to accompany grilled swordfish.

I trimmed the heads off the octopus and poached the tentacles in plain water with a bay leaf for about 45 minutes, then cooled to room temperature. The baby red potatoes were cooked in boiling, salted water for about 15 minutes. I combined the octopus and potatoes with some diced red onion, capers, diced red bell pepper, a mix of green and black olives, thyme and oregano. The dressing was simply 1 part lemon juice to two parts olive oil, salt and pepper. I couldn't have been more pleased with the results-a delicious, simple seafood salad perfect for a warm summer evening.

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What is your favorite seafood salad?

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Are the baby octopus tender? I'm offput by the chewy texture of octopus, usually, unless it's prepared by the Greek method of bashing the meat before cooking. But your salad looks beautiful.

One of my favorite seafood salads is still the old-fashioned but delicious Crab Louis -- if prepared with fresh and beautiful Dungeness crab.

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Mario Battali suggests adding a wine cork to the boiling water for the octopus. He assers that some enzymes from the cork activate in the boiling water and actually assist in the tenderization process. I don't know about the science part of it, but it did work for me.

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There are some really good Thai salads that are composed--some entirely, some partly--of seafood. There are many many of them too. Some of my favorites to make are lightly poached squid or shellfish or the like dressed simply with shallots, chillies, lime juice, fish sauce, and some herbs, served cold to room temperature. Easy to make and delicious.

edited for clarity


Edited by Alcuin (log)

nunc est bibendum...

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Are the baby octopus tender? I'm offput by the chewy texture of octopus, usually, unless it's prepared by the Greek method of bashing the meat before cooking. But your salad looks beautiful.

One of my favorite seafood salads is still the old-fashioned but delicious Crab Louis -- if prepared with fresh and beautiful Dungeness crab.

Simmering the baby octopus in plain water, (no salt), for about 45 minutes resulted in it being very tender. It still had the chewy texture of octopus, but it wasn't what I would describe as rubbery at all. The only seasoning in the water was a bay leaf.

I read a few recipes where they recommended the pounding of the octopus before cooking, but that was for the large ones, not

the itty-bitty baby octopus.

Crab Louis with Dungeness and a properly made Louis dressing is a thing of

beauty.

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Mario Battali suggests adding a wine cork to the boiling water for the octopus. He assers that some enzymes from the cork activate in the boiling water and actually assist in the tenderization process. I don't know about the science part of it, but it did work for me.

Enzymes activating in boiling water is far fetched. Under what degree of global warming would a cork oak encounter 212F and need to turn on enzymes?

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Excerpted from Molto Italiano"the only thing that makes octopus tender is a cork...I've heard that the effect is the result of an enzymatic reaction between something in the cork and the protein in the octopus flesh, but beyond that I cannot say."

The scientists in the Molecular Cooking thread are welcome to examine and explain.

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