Sunday, May 12, 2013

O - Octopus and Orange Salad

A photograph of Octopus and Orange Salad
Octopus and Orange Salad

“There are few animals as visually stunning as a baby octopus when cooked. Purple-tinged arms curl and twist into an eye-catching swirl that looks more like a sculpture in an art museum than a meal on a plate.”

– Mark Sisson, ‘Mark’s Daily Apple’

More photographs inside.
We thought we’d try an ingredient we’d never worked with before for ‘O’ and enthusiastically picked octopus as the key ingredient without any idea of a recipe. Dev trotted off to the fish markets early on Sunday morning, while I flipped frantically through my cookbooks without much success. Thank goodness for Google!! We found this recipe for a salad of char-grilled baby octopus and orange on the SBS website in the nick of time, and set to work.

This salad had several elements to it which made it somewhat time consuming to prepare. First, the octopus had to be cleaned – we chose to keep the heads, but cut them off and cleaned out everything inside prior to cooking. That was a… ahem… rather messy job to be honest, which Dev valiantly took on, while I watched a bit queasily from the side-lines. I’m not generally squeamish when it comes to raw meat or fish, but I must say, I was quite relieved not to have the job of gutting the octopus!

A photograph of the marinade used to make the Octopus and Orange Salad

We tossed the cleaned octopus with a marinade of chopped lemon, parsley and garlic and popped them in the fridge for a couple of hours. The glaze for the octopus consisted of a sugar and white wine reduction. The recipe called for orange oil, which we didn’t have, so we infused some finely sliced orange rind in the glaze.

A photograph of marinating Octopus
Marinating Octopus

The salad base was a simple mixture of mesclun salad leaves and spring onions. The recipe also included char-grilled asparagus, but we must confess that we got a bit impatient towards the end, and left that bit out!

The final element of this salad was the orange and tomato salsa which was a concoction of vine-ripened tomato, orange segments, Spanish onion, garlic, flat leaf parsley and extra virgin olive oil.

Once we had all these elements ready, we barbequed the octopus, which curled up beautifully on the hot griddle, the delicate tentacles charring to perfection. We dressed the char-grilled octopus with the orange-infused glaze and piled it onto waiting tapas dishes which held the salad base and the salsa.

A photograph of Octopus on the Barbie
Octopus on the barbie

There are few flavours as sweetly delicate as char-grilled baby octopus. This salad was lovely and vibrant, full of interesting flavours and textures. The orange-infused glaze worked beautifully with the octopus and the other ingredients in the salad complemented these two main ingredients. We were surprised that the salad was quite filling. We will definitely be making this one again!

A photograph of Octopus and Orange Salad
Octopus and Orange Salad

Technical Details
A photograph of the lighting setup used for Octopus and Orange Salad
Lighting setup - Octopus and Orange Salad

The lighting setup above was used to photograph the last photograph on this post.

The 430 EX was bounced off the ceiling (as usual!) to light up the entire scene.

The key light was a the canon 580 EX which was used as a key light to create directional highlights on the subject.

I used a water glass and some tea-lights to create a bit of background interest and and give the photograph a bit more depth.

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