Plancha Octopus with Spiced Chickpeas

It may seem formidable to cook octopus, but one may be surprised at how easy it is to tackle at home.  Chef Aaron sat down with us to shed light on his best tips for a successful outcome, every time.

“I love this recipe because it is timeless and beautiful. Something about the simplicity of octopus makes for beautiful staging and appeals to so many people. I often find people surprised to realize just how much they enjoy this sometimes-intimidating protein.”

If you do a quick search, you’ll realize that there are lots of ways to cook octopus. To get started, Aaron finds that to get the best sear, starting with simmering the octopus in stock is the way to go. One important trick to keep in mind is to start with a pot of boiling water and a pot of ice water. The octopus should be dipped three times into the boiling water and ice water, alternating each one for 30 seconds at a time. Using this technique helps to seal in the skin, which allows for a bright, solid purple color after cooking. The result is a crispy sear and a fantastic presentation.

Ingredients

For the Bullion:

-        2 sweet onions

-        1 large head of celery

-        5 carrots

-        2 large fennel bulbs

-        Half a bottle of white wine (don’t waste the other half!)

-        2 tablespoons coriander

-        1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

-        2 whole star anise

-        2 gallons of water

For the plate:

-        1 octopus, whole

-        2 each Cara Cara oranges

-        1 teaspoon brown sugar

-        1 tablespoon mirin

-        1 shallot minced

-        Sea Salt

-        12 oz cooked chick peas

-        1 tablespoon of Spice Blend (equal parts smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, and fennel pollen)

-        Olive oil for searing

-        1 cup heavy mayonnaise

-        2 tablespoons of hazelnut oil

-        1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaf (minced)

-        Zest of 1 lemon

-        Juice of 1 lemon

Method:

1.     Combine all the bouillon ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.

2.     When boiling the octopus, follow the “boil and shock” method from above 3 times. Start with a rolling boil; the water will cool off a bit throughout the process. On the fourth immersion, leave the octopus to simmer for 1.5 hours.  Lower the heat so that it just barely simmers, never coming to a rolling boil again. After the 1.5 hours are complete, remove the cooked octopus and allow to dry and cool. Once cool, remove the legs at the base of the head. Tip: The head tends to be a bit chewier than the legs, but can be reserved for stir fry or other dishes- it is great prepared in dishes like fried calamari rings!

3.     Next, prepare the citrus relish. Remove the orange segments and dice into quarter inch pieces. Combine the sugar, mirin, shallots, and oranges and reserve.

4.     For the aioli, combine mayonnaise, hazelnut oil, thyme, zest, and lemon juice, and salt. Whisk until smooth and reserve for plating.

5.     For the searing process, start with a well oiled, hot cast iron skillet or flat top griddle. Gently lay the octopus down in the oil and allow to sear. This will take a bit longer than fish or steak. Octopus is fragile, and should be allowed to sear until the flesh easily lifts from the pan. Flip the leg and sear the other side.

6.     In a separate pan, shallow fry the cooked chickpeas until crispy and golden. Remove them from the oil and pat dry with a paper towel. While they are still hot, toss in spice mix and sea salt. (Tip: These also make a killer snack!)

7.     For plating, lay a generous tablespoon of aioli on the plate, lay the seared leg, sprinkle crispy chickpeas, and top the leg with citrus relish. Garnish with bitter greens like endive or radicchio.

We hope that you enjoy our take on the plancha octopus. If you prefer to leave it to the chefs and would like to see a dish like this at one of your next dinner parties, please don’t hesitate in reaching out. We’d love to hear from you!