For most chefs, hands on experience is a great way to learn our fine art form. You can read all you want, but without doing you will never truly understand the art of cooking; including many subtext of items like surf & turf.
As a young culinarian there were several books that I would study from that almost without certain brought cause for experimentation as well as menu ideas. To this day Charlie Trotter’s Seafood is one book that any aspiring chef should have in their “must read” list. If you can’t get in the kitchen and get your hands to working after reading this book… I’ll leave the rest for you to figure out.
There are several recipes in the book that focus primarily on seafood itself. But what always captured my attention was his use of veal stock to provide flavor as well as braising liquid for items like octopus and escolar. At first site I always thought of it like gravy and fish or pot roast and fish. As I gained more experience I realized that meat stocks actually enhanced lighter flavored fish like tilapia and escolar, provided a catalyst to infuse flavor and/or removed some of fish oil that can give fish strong flavor and/or odor.
In composing the recipe for the octopus, I often return back to the book for true inspiration and simply because it’s a great read. I miss driving pass Trotter’s; nostalgia in fact to say “I ate there”! Through his books, he continues to inspire me to be the best chef I can be as well as an avid teacher of the fine art of cooking.
Octopus Braising Liquid
6cups Veal Stock
1ea. Carrot Peeled and Chopped
1ea. Yellow Onion Peeled and Chopped
1cup Red Wine
10ea. Cardamom Pods
1tbs. Cumin Seed
1tbs. Chili Powder
In a heavy bottom sauce pot, caramelize onions, carrot and garlic. Once caramelized, add chili powder, thyme, cardamom, cumin seed to the pot. Caramelize the spices without burning. Add the sherry and red wine to the pot and reduce by half. Add the veal stock to the pot and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the stock
4# Octopus Hands
6cups Braising Liquid
Bring braising liquid to a boil. Add the octopus and boil for 5 minutes. Bring the liquid to a simmer and braise the octopus for 1 hour. Remove the octopus form the pot and allow to cool.
Using a sharp knife, clean the suckers of the octopus. Reduce the liquid by half to sauce consistency .
To serve, cut the octopus in 3-4 inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Heat a sauté pan to medium heat, add olive oil and sear octopus quickly for 3-4 minutes.
Serve with reduce jus.