Well, my birthday was coming up, and being a hard man to buy for, I wandered into Pier One and saw they had a cocktail shaker with an octopus design, and I said OK, I’ll have one of those. I might have said that even if it hadn't been my birthday.
It never looks quite as photogenic as I feel it ought to, and the octopus head does look like something from outer space, but I’m not saying it like that’s a bad thing.
And then curiously, the very same day, I was in the local Vons supermarket and I saw they had octopi for sale – they'd never had them before - so obviously I bought one.
Now, I have cooked octopus quite a few times – it has been discussed elsewhere on this very blog - how to avoid rubberiness is always the problem. We know that Jiro (the one who dreams of sushi) has his staff massage the critter for an hour or so, but I knew I wouldn't be doing that. So instead there was marinating, and a longish boil at which point it looked like this:
And then a quick fry. So that it came out looking like this:
It tasted pretty good. Texture-wise it was perhaps just a little bit soft, though that’s better than being rubbery, I think.
And then, developing a small obsession, I was in a Japanese supermarket a few days later and I saw they had two kinds of octopus for sale, both according to the label, perfect for sashimi.
The one with the small suckers seemed to be cooked already, and could have been eaten straight out of the pack. The other one with the giant suckers (I had never seen suckers like that) was raw as raw could be and needed work, though I wasn’t sure quite what – a good boil and a deep fry is what it got. It was OK, not rubbery but perhaps a bit chewy - I think there’s a difference.
There is, of course, more than one way to deal with an octopus, as this image from Nobuyoshi Araki (my main man) undoubtedly proves. I hope they ate it afterwards: