Named for its eight tentacles. Octopus have a small head and long powerful arms, and are mainly bottom-dwelling.
Squids and octopuses are actually mollusks and more closely related to mussels than shellfish.
The flesh of octopus and squid – unlike that of fish – contains a large amount of tissue and should either be cooked very quickly or for a very long time at a low temperature.
Octopus are particularly tough and do best with slow cooking at a low heat. For squid, the reverse is true (in both cases a medium cooking time produces a result reminiscent of rubber).
How to cook octopus
Clean your octopus in cold water. The intestines are inside the “head” and should be removed. The “beak” where the tentacles meet must also be removed.
Cooking quickly makes octopus al dente if you cut it into very thin slices. Cooking for a long time results in a softer consistency.
One trick for a more tender, tastier result is to heat up and cool down gradually. One housewife’s tip is to dip the whole octopus in boiling water repeatedly to gradually warm up the flesh. You can also beat it to tenderize it before cooking.
Small octopus are easier to cook. They cook more quickly and are more tender.
Pulpo a la Gallega, as in Galicia in Spain. Cooked until tender, sliced into thin slices and served with ground paprika, salt, finely chopped parsley, lemon and a few drops of good olive oil.
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