Ever wonder how those restaurant chefs manage to make octopus so tender and delicious? Tim Doolittle, executive chef at Emeril Lagasse’s Table 10 at the Palazzo, simmers the cephalopod in white wine and vegetables for three hours, then tosses the softened seafood on a super-hot grill. And guess what? You can do it, too. Table 10’s octopus salad is a perfect spring and summer dish that highlights an ingredient that tends to scare or intimidate most home cooks. “If you like and can wrap your ahead around shrimp, then you’ll like octopus,” Doolittle says.
Table 10 Palazzo, 607-6363. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday & Saturday, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Charred octopus salad
2-3 lbs. raw octopus (Spanish is preferred)
1 bottle dry white wine (and the cork!)
1 carrot, rough chopped
1 yellow onion, rough chopped
1 stalk celery, rough chopped
1 cucumber, English or European
3 oz. spicy/sweet marinated peppers (we use Mama Lil’s)
½ red onion, sliced thin
1 cup arugula
3 oz. red wine vinegar
1 oz. extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
Method: Make sure the octopus has no beak inside the head, and that the meat is fresh and elastic feeling. Place in medium pot with wine, wine cork, carrot, yellow onion and celery. Bring to a boil and simmer for three hours. Remove from poaching wine and cool in refrigerator overnight.
Rub octopus with olive oil, salt and pepper and place on very hot grill, just long enough to char a bit. Chill again, then cut into small bite-size pieces.
Cut cucumber in half, seed and slice into pieces that are thick enough that they don’t easily bend. Cut peppers, if they are not already sliced. Mix octopus with vegetables and vinegar. Use some of the pickling juice from the peppers for a deeper vinegar flavor, or leave out to highlight the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to sit for at least one hour and as long as 24 hours. This will soften the cucumbers and allow the flavors to meld. Serve with bread, crackers, pita, pasta or any other item that will help absorb the juices.