April 23, 2007

Market Recipes- Polpo- Octopus Salad

Saturday's market also includes the fish truck.
Although Italy is surrounded by water, fish is still considered to be an expensive item.

Dried fish such as Baccala, the salt cod, is often the fish of choice.

Even on the Island of Ischia, the local specialty is rabbit.. not fish.
Fishermen sell the fish to make money and eat what they can produce on the land.

Other fish that are popular are the less expensive squid and octopus, which I adore.

I used to hate the rubbery versions I was served.
What people don't know is that it is either a very quick cook, or long lengthy cooking. If it is rubbery.. you need to cook it longer and it will get tender again.

When I was in Greece I remember the freshly caught octopus being beaten against the rocks and then thrown on the grill, served with bottles of Ouzo or Retsina.
AHH. I wish I was there right now.

So often when I see octopus in the market, it takes me on vacation.

In Italy, we often get frozen octopus, thawed sold in the markets.
Freezing the octopus does the same thing that beating it against the rocks did in Greece, it breaks down the muscle and tenderizes the meat.

the thawed frozen octopus

The recipe I was given, ( I ALWAYS ASK), was to boil the octopus in unsalted water for an hour, with some white wine vinegar.

after boiling, changes color!

I did as I was told and then made a simple salad, using the first green tomatoes,
new red onions sold in scallion form and the octopus cut into bite-size pieces.
Dress with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

Summer on a plate!


  1. Did you put this up just to scare me??

    : )

  2. David..
    was actually afraid to post as I know about your " fear of squid".

    I got over mine, although I still hate octopus or squid sushi.

  3. I love octopus - but here in the UK it's hard to get hold of (despite it being fished off our waters, there's "no market for it" unless you happen to be able to get to an ethnic market of some kind).
    And personally, I like squid sashimi - though only if it's spanking fresh!

  4. jessica3:35 PM

    oooh. double ooh. i love this type of salad. I'm in seafood withdrawl here in switzerland, and these photos drive me crazy. hope it was yummy.

  5. Delicious! I wish Americans would embrace octopus more! When done properly it is so yummy. Thank you for your great article and pictures.

  6. I think so many foods are not "embraced" from having had it prepared incorrectly by people for ages.
    Most think they over-cooked it and it is tough, not knowing that if you keep going, it gets to it's tender perfection!

    my favorite is cooking it in a tomato and red wine sauce, with a kick if chili and garlic!

    next for the blog!
    Also the base for a great cacciucco, fish stew

  7. This food is really a healthy food but we have also to control ourselves in eating this food ,this can be the way that our life will be gone/disappear to this world because this gives a high blood pressure if we are not try to control ourselves.

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