I’ve always been a big fan of octopus “a la plancha” that can be found in Tapas bar in Northern Spain. I also had my fair share of bad octopus experiences in the past but to be honest octopus can be a real pain in the [insert body part] to cook. I had good luck cooking it sous-vide recently but I like to experiment with different techniques to try to recreate the taste and texture I remember from my youth.
Last year when I interned in the kitchen at Le Bernardin I learned an interesting way to cook octopus – in a chorizo braising liquid. I thought that was just brilliant because the flavors of both complement each other so well. The pot containing the braising liquid was kept in a corner of the stove and never allowed to boil for about 2 hours. The tender octopus was left to cool in the rich broth and then kept in a miso marinade before being charred to order, which is also genius. It’s a bit like putting umami on umami. For this version I wanted to keep the smokey paprika flavors alive but served it with a nicely balanced Miso-Squid ink vinaigrette.
And I just LOVE when I’m able to draw my Zen logo with actual food!
I served the dish with a “tamed” garlic and olive oil purée a bit like Bagna Cauda. Now don’t run for the hills, my friends. We turned this lion into a little lamb by blanching it three times, cooking it in milk and emulsifying it with olive oil. Delicious! And a few slices of Asian pear and celery leaves to give the dish a few hints of brightness.
Octopus a la plancha with Garlic Purée & Miso-Squid Ink Sauce
- Inspired by Le Bernardin
- Serves 4
For the braised octopus:
- 1 small onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 head garlic, cut in half
- 1 small celery stalk, roughly chopped
- 1 small carrot, roughly chopped
- 2 parsley sprigs
- 4 ounces sliced chorizo or proscuitto
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt to taste
- 2 pounds octopus, tentacles only, washed and brushed with salt
For the miso-squid ink vinaigrette:
- 1 tablespoon white miso
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon squid ink
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the garlic-olive oil puree:
- Cloves of 3 large heads garlic, peeled
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup XV Olive Oil
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- Asian pear, sliced
- Celery leaves
For the braised octopus:
- In a large, deep skillet, combine 2 quarts of water with the onion, garlic, celery, carrots, parsley, chorizo, cayenne and salt. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add the octopus to the broth (dip it in the hot liquid first, remove and dip it again), cover partially and simmer over low heat until tender, about 1 1/2 hour. Let the octopus cool in the braising liquid.
For the Miso-Squid ink vinaigrette:
- In a small bowl, whisk the miso with the balsamic vinegar, oil, squid ink and 2 tablespoons of water. Season with salt and pepper.
For the garlic/olive oil puree:
- Blanch garlic 3 times (Put garlic cloves a pot of water. Bring to a boil. Drain. Repeat 2 more times). Return to saucepan and add the milk. Bring to boil over medium heat, careful to not boil it over. Reduce heat to low and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 10 minutes. Drain garlic through a sieve, and reserve 1 tablespoon of the milk. In a food processor, puree the garlic with olive oil and anchovy, adding the milk to make it creamy.
- In a bowl, mix the olive oil with the paprika and rub it all over the cooked octopus, season with salt. In a skillet, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the octopus and cook over high heat until browned all over, about 6 minutes. Transfer the octopus to a carving board and slice it crosswise 1/3 inch thick.
- Brush some of the Miso-squid ink vinaigrette on a four plates. Spoon some of the garlic puree in the middle. Top with the octopus “a la plancha”. Garnish with Asian pear and celery leaves.