Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Braised Octopus with Lemon Risotto

Braised Octopus Risotto

Weekends at our house just aren't complete without a trip to Aquarius Fish Co. At the very minimum, a dozen oysters--enjoyed on the half-shell with a bottle of bubbly--is a menu staple. Beyond that, given that the market's seafood selection changes daily, we don't always know going in just what's for dinner: in fact, many meals are developed in the car on the way home.

On a recent visit to Aquarius we had the good fortune of picking up a frozen octopus. At $2.99 a pound (and weighing in at two pounds) it looked more like a Bocce ball than dinner, but J had a vision. Inspired by a dish at San Francisco's Quince, he set out to prepare braised octopus with his own twist: served on a bed of lemon risotto. The evolution went something like this:

Braised Octopus:

One 2-lb. octopus
Two cups dry white wine
One white onion (chopped)
One cup tomatoes (skinned and chopped)
Two garlic cloves (sliced)
One lemon (zested and juice reserved)
Four Tbsp. olive oil (combined)
One tsp. paprika
Two bay leaves
One tsp. fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Rinse octopus and cut tentacles from the head. Slice tentacles into one inch pieces and discard smaller end pieces. Combine octopus pieces with two tablespoons olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, thyme, salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Toss and coat well. Cover and marinate for about 30 minutes.

After the octopus has marinated, heat remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Add onion and bay leaves and cook until onion is translucent (about eight minutes). Add white wine, tomatoes and octopus. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about an hour and a half until octopus is tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. (The longer and slower it is cooked, the more tender the octopus will become.)

As for the lemon risotto recipe, J reached for this adaptation of one from Da Filippo in Sorrento, courtesy of Saveur.

The octopus was meaty and rich without the potential "rubbery" texture that can occur if not cooked properly. While the zesty, creamy lemon risotto was a unique accompaniment, in the future J would consider "lightening" the dish up a bit by using a linguine instead. Nonetheless, the meal was a definitive departure from the tacos we'd been eating all week, and a fun entrée into preparing octopus at home.

- K

Aquarius Fish Co.

314 West Broadway
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
M-F 11-7, Sat 10-5

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Blogger Karla said...

Thanks for the Lemon Risotto link! I just discovered your blog and have been reading it all night. I've been to a lot of the SLC restaurants you have shown on this site so it's great to get your ideas as I'm guilty of ordering the same things all the time.

11:33 PM  

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