Grilled Octopus with Crispy Capers

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Florida Keys & Key West Chef's Table: Extraordinary Recipes from the Conch Republic

  • Yield: 8 Servings as an appetizer


For the octopus
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup pickling spice
  • 4 Lemons juice
  • 6 pounds fresh octopus
For the marinade
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons allspice
  • 2 tablespoons ground or powdered garlic
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons Aji Amarillo powder, optional
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese five spice powder
For the fried capers
  • 10 (small) capers
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup green pea tendrils, arugula, or watercress
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
How to Make It
    To prepare the octopus
  1. Place water, salt, sugar, pickling spice, and lemon juice in a large pot over medium-high heat. Bring this court bouillon to a boil. Dip octopus tentacles and bodies in the boiling court bouillon 3 times, waiting 5 seconds between each dipping. Then submerge each octopus in the bouillon and allow octopus to cook for 45 minutes.
  2. To make the marinade
  3. While octopus is cooking, mix all the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside until needed.
  4. To prepare the fried capers
  5. Drain capers and pat dry with paper towels. Heat olive oil in a small high-sided saucepan over medium-high heat. Add capers to oil and fry until they are crisp and appear to no longer be frying. Remove capers from oil using a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Allow capers to rest at room temperature until needed.
  6. Once octopus is cooked through, remove from liquid and cool at room temperature. Once cooled, remove tentacles from bodies. Slice tentacles in long, thin strips and submerge them in the marinade. Set aside in the refrigerator for 4 hours. (Note: The rest of the octopus is edible and can be used in other cooking applications, such as for a soup or even chopped into a fresh salad. Place the octopus bodies in a ziplock bag and refrigerate until needed.)
  7. Remove tentacles from the marinade and place them on a hot grill just long enough to get a nice char on each side. (Note: Be careful not to put too many tentacles on the grill at one time, as too much oil from the marinade could cause an oil fire on your grill.)
  8. To plate
  9. Arrange approximately 1 tablespoon green pea tendrils on each of 8 small plates. Place an octopus tentacle atop tendrils. Finish with a sprinkle of smoked paprika and crispy capers. Drizzle 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil atop each portion and season with a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately.

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