Octopus yay or nay?


We had never eaten octopus before we lived in Puerto Vallarta. Squid was often a menu choice for us but there was something about octopus that seemed too – fishy? Hard to say what the major turn off was but in time, we learned.

For one thing, both squid and octopus are great sources for important things we need in our diet, especially as we age. Zinc, manganese, copper, selenium, riboflavin and lots of B12. Octopus is also low in calories so a great way to get some protein in your diet without eating a lot of fat.

Many restaurants in Puerto Vallarta serve octopus and there are many options for giving it a try. Once you do, we can bet you will be hooked. Interestingly enough, octopus, and fish in general, don’t put you at the risk of salmonella that meat does. However, we steer clear of farmed octopus, which is easy to do, since there is an abundance of fresh supply in the ocean right outside your window.

In Spain, in the region of Galicia, there are specialized restaurants that serve octopus called pulperías. We have yet to find such an establishment in Puerto Vallarta but with the rising popularity of eating octopus, we may see one in the near future, perhaps before the faddishness dies out.

When cooked properly, octopus is buttery soft and very tender. It’s not rubbery, as one would expect. Whether eaten in a seafood salad or a stew, there are specific methods, of course, to preparing octopus. We’ve been served grilled pulpo with lemon and it was delicious.

Italians insist on boiling the octopus with a wine cork in the pot. This supposedly enhances the tenderness but there are many who will tell you this is nothing more than an old wives’ tale. The Greeks believe the first thing one must do with the freshly caught octopus is whack it several times on the rocks before you’ve even finished tying up the boat. Spaniards swear by a copper pot to cook it in and nothing else will do. Scientifically speaking, blanching is the best way to tenderize octopus, tossing it in boiling water for thirty seconds, then baking it, covered, in an oven at 200 F for hours. The whole idea behind this is the octopus will retain more of its own defined flavor when it is not diluted by cooking water. We recommend making time to cook octopus, rather than attempting shortcuts.

Next time you eat out, check the appetizer menu. Try octopus in some of the varied recipes and we believe you will discover something new and delightful!

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