Octopus is eaten in many cultures. They are a common food in Mediterranean and Asian sea areas. The arms and sometimes other body parts are prepared in various ways, often varying by species or geography.
Live octopuses are eaten in several countries around the world, including the US. Animal welfare groups have objected to this practice on the basis that octopuses can experience pain. In support of this, since September 2010, octopuses being used for scientific purposes in the EU are protected by EU Directive 2010/63/EU which states “…there is scientific evidence of their [cephalopods] ability to experience pain, suffering, distress and lasting harm. In the UK, this means that octopuses used for scientific purposes must be killed humanely, according to prescribed methods (known as “Schedule 1 methods of euthanasia”).
Octopus as Food in Australia
Available wild-caught, these marine dwelling cephalopods are found right around the Australian coast, from shallow tidal pools to depths of over 3,000m, though generally caught closer inshore among seagrass and on muddy, sandy or reefy bottoms at less than 200m on the continental shelf. They are mostly solitary, living in holes, under rocks or burrowing into the sea bottom. Mainly caught off south-eastern Australia, from southern Queensland to the Great Australian Bight, often as bycatch, using trawls, dredges, pots and nets; one species is trapped and taken as bycatch of the WA Rocklobster fishery (as they are a major predator of Rocklobsters).
To Buy Octopus :
When purchasing fresh whole Octopus look for intact bright skin, intact head and arms, and a pleasant fresh sea smell.
To Store Octopus :
Make sure Octopus is gutted and cleaned thoroughly. Wrap in plastic wrap or place in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months below -18ºC.
To Cook Octopus :
See also : How to Prepare Octopus for Cooking
To clean whole Octopus: lay Octopus flat on a chopping board, slice either side of the eyes and discard them, push beak (mouth) out from between the arms. Remove and discard the head contents (try not to break the ink sac as the ink stains) and rinse the head or wipe clean with a clean cloth. Skin can be peeled off or left on, it will turn a dark purple as it cooks. Cut head and legs into suitable pieces depending on size and cooking method. Average yield is 90%. It has a mild flavour, medium oiliness, and is dry with a firm texture, denser than Squids, Calamari and Cuttlefish. The flesh is translucent when raw and white when cooked.
Octopus Cooking Methods:
Deep-fry, pan-fry, stir-fry, bake, braise, grill, barbecue, smoke, raw (sashimi). To be tender, Octopus must be cooked very quickly over high heat or very slowly over low heat. It is suitable for a wide variety of preparations and responds well to being marinated to both tenderise and flavour it. To tenderise before char-grilling or other quick cooking methods, place in a bowl and cover with boiling water, allow to stand for 30 seconds to 1 minute, depending on size of Octopus, then drain and rinse under cold water. Cooked marinated Octopus makes a good addition to salads and antipasto platters.
Octopus goes well with:
Capsicum, chilli, fresh herbs (such as marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley), garlic, green onions, lemon, lime, olive oil, tomato.
Squids, Calamari and Cuttlefish – When purchasing fresh whole squid look for intact bright skin, with a light brown to purple mottled appearance and intact head, arms and tentacles. Cleaned tubes should be white without any brown markings.