E definitely outdid herself with these photos. I think they really capture the lively essence of these little yummy critters. They actually look like animals right out of the ocean. The prep on both was very simple highlighting the sweetness of the crayfish and the chewy richness of the octopus. This was part my half of the dinner on the inaugural night of The Book of Tapas cookery.
I was excited about the octopus. My love of squid has been well-documented and I make no favorites among the mollusk brethren. The preparation was simple: first freeze, then boil the hapless cephalopod until it’s good an done. My guy was too large (3.5 lb instead of the prescribed 2.2 lb). So, I cut him in half (we ended up with four tentacles instead of eight), and froze both halves: one for later and one for that night. The book then dictates a 35 minute bath in boiling water, testing frequently until it reaches the consistency you want. Mine took over 40 minutes but it was worth the extra wait as E is not a fan of overly chewy food. The octopus should be snipped into bite size pieces with kitchen shears when finally ready and coated with paprika and olive oil. This is better the next day and in my next attempt I’m going to try some long-term marinating of the cooked bits.
Onto the crayfish!
The little mudbugs got sautéed in wine over high heat. The book instructs the user to remove one the rear dorsal armor plates to get at the digestive tract, but after a few digs beneath the exoskeleton, I realized that these guys must have been cleaned already as I found no tract to speak of. The book is straight from Spain, maybe things are different there. Oh well, I probably left the fishies in the pan for too long because they were not as succulent as I’d liked (not quite lobstery), but when I cook whole beast for the first time (and it was my first time), I always tend towards caution. Fortune favors the bold, I’ve said so before , and so next time I will be a bit more cavalier. A strained fresh tomato sauce was the topping- it was thin and intense instead of being thick and chunky.
So, be not afraid of whole and bizarre foodstuffs, friends. Thanks to the guys at Sea Breeze Fish Market at 44th and 9th for these great aqua-eats. I will be writing a post on the market itself on some future date for you, noble readers. Until then, friends, cook on!