The success of this dish sinks or swims on the quality of the octopus. Long-line-caught octopus sustainably harvested near the northern Galician region of Spain is ideal for this salad, says Seattle Fish Co.’s account specialist Matt Scanlon.
“The key to ensuring a non-rubbery octopus texture is to make sure it’s been tumble-tenderized (tumbled with sea salt, ice and water to break down the muscles) after it’s been caught,” he says. “This salad recipe is based on a dish I ate in a long-forgotten restaurant — and being from Kansas City, I love to have an excuse to fire up the grill.”
This salad features a balance of flavors: the sweet meat of the octopus, the smoky paprika, the sour citrus and salty Castelvetrano olives.
Tips for preparation: Call the fishmonger at Cosentino’s Market in Brookside (816-523-3700) or Broadway Butcher Shop (816-931-2333) to order octopus, which starts at around $15 a pound.
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There are two types of paprika; Spanish pimenton and Hungarian paprika. Choose Spanish pimenton for a smokier flavor.
Grilled Galician Octopus Salad
Makes 8 servings
For the octopus:
1 teaspoon salt
1 (4- to 6-pound) tumble-tenderized Galician octopus
2 tablespoons olive oil
For the salad:
1 pound new potatoes, scrubbed clean, parboiled, quartered
2 stalks celery, washed and diced
1 red onion, peeled and diced
8 Castelvetrano olives, pitted
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton) powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Fill a large stockpot with water about 4 inches from the top. Add salt, cover tightly with lid and bring to a boil over high heat.
Slowly lower octopus into hot water and boil for about 40 minutes.
Turn off heat and allow octopus to sit in water for about 30 minutes.
While octopus is in water, prepare a hot fire in a charcoal grill and set grate on highest setting. To imbue a smokier flavor, add your favorite wood chips.
Using tongs, carefully remove octopus from water and place on cutting board. (Save the water in which the octopus was boiled. Bring water back to a boil over high heat and reduce liquid by half. Allow liquid to cool before transferring to a container to use as seafood stock in Spicy Seafood Stew, or another recipe.)
Using a sharp knife, remove legs from head. Remove and discard beak (a 1-inch bony mass) from base of head. Cut head into quarters and brush olive oil onto all octopus pieces.
Place octopus pieces over hot coals for 5 minutes, or until it becomes lightly charred on one side. Using tongs, carefully turn octopus over and grill another 5 minutes. Place grilled octopus onto a cutting board and slice into bite-sized pieces.
Into a large mixing bowl, gently stir grilled octopus pieces, potatoes, celery, onion and olives together. Set aside.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk garlic, lemon zest and juice together. Season with paprika, cayenne and salt. While whisking, drizzle in olive oil until an emulsified dressing forms.
Pour dressing over contents of large mixing bowl and toss until well-coated.
Serve immediately or place in a lidded container in refrigerator to serve salad cold.
Per serving: 398 calories (45 percent from fat), 20 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 109 milligrams cholesterol, 19 grams carbohydrates, 36 grams protein, 537 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.