Friday, July 1, 2011

Fighting the Sea Monster, Round 2

(alternate title: "Fighting male-pattern baldness". I think it's time to throw in the towel and Bic that bitch. But how awkward if I end up having a birthmark that says "Live Nudes" or something...)

About a year ago, I decided to buy an octopus and cook it. Maybe because it was cheap. Maybe because I'd been mesmerized by a recent viewing of Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, and felt humans had to even the score. Or, perhaps I'd cobbled together a stash of Assyrtiko, and was compelled to cram my suck-hole with something briny and very Greek. After determining that a long kiss with Olympia Dukakis would be too Greek (and certainly far-too briny), I opted for an octopus.

But here was the problem: like nibbling into the lower lip of Olympia Dukakis' leathery maw during the hypothetical make-out session that should have never advanced to this disturbing point, my cooked cephalopod of one year ago was exceptionally chewy. Like rubber.

But that tends to happen with octopodes. The interweb is littered with tips and tricks to eliminate the chew. A sort of boiling method- last year's opus- failed miserably.

So why battle this tricky little critter again? I blame it on a recent meal at Atlanta's Kyma, where they crank out an octopus dish so tender and delicious, it's like eating heaven, provided heaven is an 8-legged sea creature that predicts soccer matches. Honestly, good octopus is akin to a firmer, milder scallop, in my opinion. If that sounds like something in your wheelhouse, then you can understand my misguided persistence. Gleaning some hot tips off our waiter, I opted for a new preparation, sure to be a smash hit.

Out of a marriage of trade secrets and my own chops in the kitchen, I decided to cut my octopus into individual tentacles, braise it for an hour in a mixture of red wine vinegar, olive oil, lemons, garlic, fresh oregano, salt, and pepper, then finish it with a good crisp on the grill. Tender and Crisp was the goal. Like a Burger King TenderCrisp sandwich, except edible.

(no matter how it turned out, few things look cooler than a tentacle on the grill).

I garnished with some grilled lemon slices, a few herbs, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a drizzle of good olive oil...

...disaster. So chewy. Inedible to some.

Sea Monster - 2. Balding Land Ape - 0.

I guess all I can do is toast that which has become my latest white whale... least until I get my peepers on Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus. Gator tail, anyone?

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