Sunday, November 14, 2010

How do you cook baby octopus without it turning to rubber?

low heat..slow cookHow do you cook baby octopus without it turning to rubber?
Most that I have bought were already cooked. But I did sometimes get them fresh at the Japanese grocery store. Quickly otherwise just like Squid you have to cook them forever to get them soft again. I have dropped them in boiling water for about 2 min. Then put them in ice water to stop the cooking. But in spaghetti sauce i just let them simmer in the sauce the whole time. I know some people also will put them on the cutting board covered with plastic wrap and give a couple whacks with a heavy skillet.How do you cook baby octopus without it turning to rubber?
You need to cook it at low heat, first off. Cooking any meat on high heat will turn it hard or rubbery because of the muscles in the meat.

And how long? The answer is it takes very very little time to cook it. I made a stew once with a regular octopus and thought that if I simmered it for a long time (kind of like what you do with a roast), the time would tenderize it - nope - time also turns to rubber - just like with shrimp. So cook it on low heat and just for a few minutes. Shrimp takes 5 minutes to cook and octopus should take right around that amount of time. And by low heat, I mean bring your liquid to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, and then add the octopus in the last 5 minutes of cooking.

I love calamari (squid) which is very similar to your octopus and I also love Oriental food. I collect cookbooks and read and use them often (have 1,200 + of them). Some of my Oriental cookbooks have recipes written in Chinese along with English. The particular recipe I am looking at right now says to bring a pot of water to a boil, drop in the calamari, stir and remove. Drain thoroughly and set aside. That's it for the first cooking in that recipe. Then it goes on to stir-fry veggies and when they are done, add the calamari and combine. Then it is removed from the heat. It specifically says be careful not to overcook the calamari. It's recipes like this one that tells me do not cook it for a long time.

Hope that helps.

2 baby octopuses

1/4 lb. Chinese cabbage

3 oz. spinach

1/2 lb. clams

1 cake bean curd

1 lg. green onion

1 green chile pepper

1 red pepper

2 tbsp. rice wine

3 dried oriental mushrooms

1 round onion

3 c. meat stock

Clean and cut the octopuses into 2 1/3 inch long pieces. Parboil the cabbage starting with the stems. Parboil the spinach and mix it with 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil and dash of salt. Squeeze out the water and wrap in the scalded cabbage leaf. Cut the rolls into 1 1/4 inch lengths. Cut the bean curds into flat pieces 1/3 inch thick. Cut the green onion into 2 inch diagonal strips. Soak the clam in salt water overnight and let it stand to remove the sediments. Season the octopus pieces with 1 teaspoon hot pepper powder. Arrange the prepared ingredients in groups attractively in a casserole. Add the boiling meat broth to the ingredients, season with salt and bring to a quick boil for the best taste. Serve at once.

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