To Honor an Octopus

by Nicki on October 26, 2010

Let’s take a moment to commemorate the legend that was Paul the Octopus. The football (soccer) match-predicting cephalopod died today at the approximate age of 2 ½ years old. Paul rose to fame with a 100% accuracy record during the 2010 World Cup, correctly guessing all of Germany’s 7 games, both semis, the third-place playoff, and Spain’s ultimate triumph in the final. Call me insensitive, but let’s allow everyone to celebrate his life in their own way. These are some of the best octopus dishes around:

Paul the Octopus, as he picks Spain to win the World Cup

OK, yes, Fried Calamari is actually squid, but no appetizer menu is complete without this finger-licking snack.

Fried Calamari

A popular Greek dish, Flame Grilled Octopus is grilled in vinegar, oil and oregano.

Sannakji is a Korean delicacy that translates as ‘live octopus’. There’s not much left to imagine here folks- an octopus is cut into small pieces and served immediately, seasoned with sesame. The arm pieces should still be squirming on the plate.

Korean Sannakji

But some motherly advice? Chew your food properly! Since the arm’s suction cups are still active when the dish is served, too big pieces can stick to one’s mouth or throat, causing a choking hazard. Sannakji should be chewed up into particles small enough so that no piece is big enough to stick to one’s throat.

Octopus Heads are a South Korean favorite for their aphrodisiac qualities. Amid controversy, the Seoul City Government recently announced that octopus heads contain hazardous levels of a carcinogen that poisons the liver and kidneys, much to the dismay of fishermen and restaurateurs. The recommended daily intake is only two a day.

Hailing from the Spanish region of Galicia, Pulpo de Gallego is boiled and seasoned with paprika, salt and olive oil. Don’t let the texture put you off!

Pulpo de Gallego with Bread and Wine

The Japanese love their octopus. Part of the octopus’ legs can be thinly sliced and used for Tako Sushi, or fried to make Takoyaki dumplings. Octopus (or tako, in Japanese) is also a popular option for Sashimi; fresh raw seafood sliced thing and served with soy sauce, wasabi and/or fresh ginger.

Japanese Takoyaki Dumplings

Although Tako Poke recipes vary in Hawaiian cuisine, its mainstay is a mixed salad of diced octopus, vegetables, and seasonings.

Hawaiian Tako Poke

A few other ideas were thrown around during the tournament. After Paul (correctly) predicted that Germany would beat Argentina in the quarterfinals, Argentine Chef Nicolaus Bedorrou suggested, “We will beat him to keep the meat tender and then put him in boiling water”, while Argentine newspaper El Dia only needed “four potatoes, olive oil and a little pepper.” Even the Germans were crying for him to be marinated in garlic butter after Paul picked Spain over Deutschland.

Well, Paul survived them all. May he rest in peace, far from pots of boiling water and seasoning.

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