According to most seafood lovers, octopus is a top-tier delicacy. Those tiny creatures with long arms have been serving the culinary world for a long time. Not only do they look magical in the documentaries, but they can also taste even better when put in a place along with salads and hot sauce. Wondering what it tastes like? Let’s find out-
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What is Octopus
For those who are still confused about what octopuses are, they are the soft-bodied marine creatures that you see in science videos. They are generally known as a mollusk. Just like snails and clams, snails have a shell to hide in but octopuses don’t. They can attack with their eight long tentacles to a potential threat. These tentacles also help them hide in a very small area by wrapping their arms around their small body.
They belong to the cephalopod species. There are different types among which is squid too. In fact, there are about 300 types of species of this kind. Octopuses are dangerous to humans as they can wrap their tentacles around our body if they find us a threat. But they aren’t poisonous except for some rare kinds. They aren’t rare in the culinary world either. People have been cooking octopuses for a long time now.
In many restaurants around the world and in a lot of cultures, octopus is considered to be a delicacy. Especially in East Asia and Mediterranean countries, octopuses are very common. The reason why it became popular is that octopuses are very versatile and delicate if cooked properly. It can create wonderful dishes and flavors. It is also very easy to cook.
What Does Octopus Taste Like
The most common similarity between octopuses is probably calamari. The texture and the taste are almost the same. However, for those who haven’t had calamari, octopus is kind of rubbery. When it's raw, it is smooth, slimy, and rubbery. But as we begin to cook it the sliminess doesn’t stay. The texture becomes smooth instead of slimy.
Cooked octopus will not have a rubbery or smooth texture, but it becomes chewy then. It needs to be mentioned that octopuses can be cooked in many ways. Well-cooked octopuses will not be chewy and taste very soft. But deep-fried or overcooked octopuses will be very chewy. In fact, the tentacles can be crunchy or chewy but that depends also on how the octopus is.
If you are looking for a fresh oceanic smell from the octopus you can try it raw. Raw ones will not have a fishy smell like other fish. But it will smell like the ocean. The flavor gets more subtle when it's cooked. Therefore it is best to cook octopus as soon as it's been caught.
Some even call it bland when cooked too. But you can add seasoning and spices to make it delicious. Most people fall in love with the taste of it when it is cooked properly with herbs, seasonings, and veggies.
Octopus is one of those dishes, that take up the flavor and smell, of other ingredients. In fact, as the smell and flavors fade out, it will smell like the strongest ingredient it is being cooked with. Octopus is also very nutritious like any other food from the ocean. As we know, seafood is the best source of iodine, potassium, protein, etc. Octopus is no other.
On top of that, it adds some health benefits too. It can improve cardiac health, relieve depression and stress, provides lots of vitamins together, and reduces the risk of cancer too. To improve the vitamin sources you can try to get it well cooked.
As already mentioned, the octopus doesn’t have a taste of its own. So when it is boiled in water, it is practically tasteless. This is why usually octopuses are boiled in something else with other ingredients. For example, if it's boiled in a stew it can get softer and taste like the spices. The flavor and texture really add to the stew and makes it a delicacy then.
Other than that, it can be boiled to serve with salad and sauce as well. Some also like to grill it later with marinated sauce to get a softer grilled octopus. Another dish that is very popular in Mediterranean countries is boiled octopus in casserole. They add potato, tomato, paprika, and other spicy ingredients to make it a delicate dish.
Grilled octopus needs to be cooked or grilled properly to taste the best. Well-cooked octopus that is grilled is tender, and moist, with a crispy exterior. It smells smoky and tastes like a chicken grill. Some like to compare it to grilled pork too but the texture and flavor are definitely different.
While pork and beef have some fat or oil to them, the octopus doesn’t. It is all meat and tender when grilled. The chewiness also isn’t there anymore. For a perfect octopus grill, you can try to boil or cook it beforehand so that it doesn’t get rubbery. However, making a properly grilled octopus is difficult and needs multiple practices. You can start with this video which is a walkthrough of how to make restaurant-quality grilled octopus-
Unlike other methods of cooked octopuses, roasted ones are very delicious. It actually gets a sweet flavor that makes it appetizing to a lot of people. Beef, chicken, and pork are considered a delicacy when roasted. So you can imagine what a roasted octopus is. The reason why bland octopus suddenly becomes sweet is because of the caramelization process that happens. The carbohydrate inside the octopus gets melted and runs all over it.
So the meat actually tastes sweet but not too much to linger at the back of the throat. Hence a very mild flavor is tasted. It is also cooked or roasted in foil paper so that it doesn’t get chewy or rubbery. Roasted octopus is generally served with sauce or rice to complement the delicacy. Other than these ways, you can get a Greek-style cooked canned octopus here and have a feast immediately!
Health Benefits of Octopus
It is considered a delicacy for a number of reasons and one of them is the vitamins and nutrients in it. According to the USDA, 100g cooked octopus has 29.8g protein, 630 mg potassium, 106 mg calcium, and 0g sugar. It also has a lot of vitamins like B-12, A, E, folic acid, B-6, riboflavin, etc. This low-fat, protein and vitamin-rich food can give you a health boost like no other.
You won’t have to worry about sugar intake because it doesn’t have any. It also detoxifies your body and reduces cholesterol and blood pressure.
Although they are considered to be healthy and delicate, it is not possible to have octopus every day like other fish from the sea. This creature is what you can have occasionally at restaurants. However, they can definitely be your top healthy choice even when you dine out every once in a while.