Baby octopus is one of those dividing foods: you either love them or you hate them. I fall into the lover camp as does Carlo. There is something strangely satisfying about popping an entire little baby octopus into your mouth. I first learned to enjoy them at the incredible restaurant Uchi in Austin, where they serve Tako Pops which are grilled marinated baby octopuses on a stick so they look like some kind of deranged lollipop.
We have never made baby octopus at home before, but since we have had positive experiences cooking squid at home, we decided to try cooking some octopus. You can find frozen packs of baby octopus at most Asian stores and they are really cheap: I paid $3.50 for a pound pack of frozen octopus at my local ethnic food store.
I like my baby octopus quickly grilled or sauteed so they get a nice crunchy char on them, especially on the tentacles. This recipe is a classic Spanish seafood treatment and can be used on baby squid too if you are a bit too freaked out to cook baby octopus at home. This recipe makes enough for 4 people as a starter at $1.06 per serving.
Baby Octopus with Garlic and Parsley, adapted from Jose Andres’ Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound baby octopus, defrosted if frozen
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat leaf parsley
salt to taste
In a griddle, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil over a medium heat. Place the baby octopuses in the pan and sear them, without moving them for 3 minutes, then turn them over and cook for another couple of minutes until they are a bit crispy and charred. If a lot of water starts coming out of the octopuses, just remove them and pour out the water and restart the process until the octopuses are cooked. Remove the octopuses from the pan and place them on a large serving dish.
Add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and the garlic to a small frying pan and saute for 20 seconds. Remove the garlic from the heat and squeeze the lemon juice over it and stir together. Add the parsley to the mixture, then pour it over the octopus and add salt to taste. Serve the dish immediately.