Posts Tagged ‘octopus salad’

Stripped Octopus Salad

May 28, 2009

octopus salad

In 1979 I attended an IBM Systems Operator Certification program in Tempe, AZ.   At that time reel-to-reel magnetic tape was still being used in systems and cobal was the programming language of choice.  My most memorable experience, besides graduation ceremonies and floating the Mesa River in inner-tubes, was a romantic dinner at an Italian restaurant in Phoenix.  The restaurant was elegant with white linens and silver cutlery, the service was attentive, and the starter dish, Octopus salad, was to die for.  From the first bite, I was in love.  It was not rubbery, nor fishy tasting, but lemony and salty with capers, creamy with olive oil and crunchy with celery.  

I moved to Alaska shortly thereafter, where octopus is fresh caught, blanched to a coral color, and the tenacles are as big as tennis racket handles.   In fact, whole octopi are so large in the Aleutian Islands that one tenacle was enough for 6 servings of this starter dish.  The easiest way to the strip the skin off the tenacles was with a boning knife.  Once the tenacles were stripped and diced, it was easy to marinate and throw together on a bed of lettuce, garnish with parsley and serve with a crostini.

You can leave the skin on if you prefer, I don’t, unless the octopus is very skinny as they are in the South Pacific.  Then I prefer them really well cooked, until the skin turns purple, and simmered in coconut milk.  That’s the Polynesian method and it is very tasty also.

Whatever octopi you use for this dish, pulpos from Mexico, or larger varieties from the Pacific Northwest, be sure to include the tips of the tenacles for extra crunch, remove the beeks and clean the heads.  The ink from the heads can be used to color fresh pasta dough.


  • 1 lb octopus, blanched, cleaned, diced the size of fresh peas
  • 4 lemons, 3 juiced and 1 cut into wedges for garnish
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 shallot, chopped finely
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • 2 Tbsp red pimento, diced
  • black ripe olives to taste
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • handful of parsley, chopped finely, reserve 1/4 cup for garnish
  • 3-4 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 bunch romaine lettuce, chopped coarsely


  1. Mix all ingredients except lettuce in a glass bowl.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  2. Place a mound of lettuce on each of 6 cold serving plates, top with 1/2 cup of marinated octopus.
  3. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.
  4. Serve with crackers or toasted crostini.

My All-Purpose Marinade

April 21, 2009

This recipe is my version of a marinade from Luna Rossa, an Italian Restaurant in Tonga, owned by my good friend and great chef, Marco Veranesi.  Marco made a batch of this everyday to sauté mussels, marinate steaks, toast bread for bruschettas and a host of other chores.  I love this on octopus with capers, lemon, and celery for a first course.  Its also fabulous for sauteing chicken in white wine (Poullet au Vin Blanc), steamers Portugese style, and a host of other dishes.  It will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week.

  • 8-10 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tsp sea salt
  • 1 bunch Italian parsley
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 2-3 dashes Tabasco sauce

Place garlic, salt and parsley in a food processor, whirl until pureed.  Slowly add olive oil until all is emulsified. 

To use as a marinade:

  • Pour 1/2 cup of marinade in a zip-lock bag, add meat of choice:  chicken, pork or beef
  • Massage to coat all pieces and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Refrigerate if longer time is needed but bring to room temperature before grilling.
  • Pat dry with paper towel to remove excess marinade before placing over coals.
  • May also pan fry in a skillet without removing excess marinade.  Add 1 Tbsp of butter to assist browning.