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Foods

Octopus
Why Eat It
Shopping
Storage
Preparation


Why Eat It

Possibly the strangest-looking sea creature we use as food, the purplish-black octopus is a cephalopod; a mollusk whose pliable body consists of tentacles sprouting directly from its head. (Cephalopod is a Greek-derived word meaning "headed foot.") Octopus is caught primarily on the Pacific coast and it is also imported. It is usually sold frozen (or thawed) and already dressed (cleaned). The cholesterol level of octopus is quite low--48 milligrams in 3 1/2 ounces, raw, as compared to 233 milligrams in its relative the squid. (Each has only 1 gram of fat, however.) Unlike almost any other type of seafood, octopus calls for long cooking to tenderize its firm, mild-flavored flesh.

Shopping

Shop for octopus as you would for fish. Be sure they smell fresh, not fishy, and look moist and shiny. If buying them whole, the eyes should be bright, not cloudy.

Storage

When you buy octopus, it is imperative to keep it cold until you are ready to cook and serve it.

Preparation

Octopus is commonly sold dressed and ready to cook. Wash thoroughly before cooking. Octopus is tough and needs to be precooked before using it in a prepared dish. Place the cleaned octopus into boiling, salted water and simmer until the skin can be peeled off. This may take anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes, depending on the octopus's size and age. Some cooks feel that octopus must be pounded with a mallet to tenderize it before cooking; others find that cooking alone is sufficient.


Date Published: 04/20/2005
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