There was a time when Americans were squeamish about eating octopus, but now this is a favorite and a staple on the menu at Felidia. Octopus has come of age as a delicious ingredient, and any respectable restaurant has an appetizer that includes it; at my house, it has always been popular, even with the kids. This salad can be made in advance, but just keep in mind that the potatoes get hard and waxy when refrigerated, so refrigerate the octopus but leave the potatoes at room temperature. You can toss them together just before serving. Your fishmonger (or supermarket fish counter) will often have tenderized octopus, which most likely has been defrosted. Usually an octopus weighs about 2 or 3 pounds, but shrinks to half its original size when cooked. For this recipe I recommend Idaho potatoes, but it’s nice to mix these up with whatever is in season, be it Red Bliss, fingerlings, or the Purple Peruvian Potatoes that are now all the rage.
- 1 1/2 - 2 pounds octopus, cleaned
- 1 wine cork
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 medium Idaho potatoes, whole
- 5 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Lemon wedges for garnish
Place the octopus, wine cork, bay leaves, and salt and pepper in a large pot with water. Cover generously and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook the octopus at a vigorous simmer until tender but slightly al dente, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a second pot, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil. Cook about 25 minutes, until just tender, then cool, peel, and cut them into 1″ cubes.
Drain the octopus, discarding the bay leaves and cork. Cut the tentacles away where they join the head and, if desired, strip away the skin and suction cups by drawing the tentacles through the bunched fingers of one hand. Clean the octopus head by squeezing out the core with your fingers, and cut the meat into thin slices. Cut the tentacles into 1″ pieces, and toss the octopus pieces with the warm potatoes. Toss in the olive oil, red wine vinegar, onion, and parsley.
Place on a plate, garnish with lemon wedges and serve.