The octopus is a marine mollusk with a short body and a beak surrounded by 8 tentacles equipped with a large number of suction cups on their undersides. The tentacles can reach up to 13 ft (4 m), while the body can weigh up to 220.5 lb (100 kg).
Scuba divers claim that octopuses are intelligent, not bloodthirsty at all but very bold animals. They feed mainly on crustaceans, fish and other marine animals. However, on occasion, people must be cautious of them because they do possess a beak filled with poisonous saliva. A potential injury from this beak can be very dangerous. A weird fact about octopi is that they have 3 hearts.
Octopuses crawl along the seabed or swim, releasing an inky liquid with a single purpose - defense. They inhabit warmer waters. Humans have been familiar with them since ancient times because southern peoples fed primarily on seafood. In various cultures you will find images of octopi on ceramic vases, jars, bowls and other objects used in daily life that have been preserved even to this day.
Composition of Octopus
The composition of 3.5 oz (100 g) of fresh octopus is 16.2% protein, 79% water, 1.9% fat, 1% carbohydrates. 3.5 oz of octopus contain 86 calories. Octopus is exceptionally rich in sodium, potassium, iron, iodine, calcium and phosphorus. In addition, it contains copper, vitamins B1, B2, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, purine bases and uric acid.
The meat of dried octopus contains 17% water, 76% protein and about 3% fat. In it there are extracts, vitamins and mineral salts.
Choosing and Storing Octopus
The octopus is a seafood delicacy that can be found in specialized fish shops, as well as in larger supermarkets. It is stored on top of ice pieces. You can recognize a fresh specimen by its light-colored eyes and the scent of ocean water.
When buying an octopus, find out whether it's been cleaned or not. If buying an uncleaned octopus, it needs to be cleaned and the ink sac removed very carefully. The beak and eyes must also be removed.
When prepared properly, an octopus can provide a real treat for the senses. As such, it is a favored food in many locales around the world, especially in Eastern Asia and the Mediterranean. Chefs in different parts of the world have their own unique methods of preparation of this seafood delicacy. For example, in Greece, they hit the octopuses on seashore rocks or throw them in the centrifuge of the washing machine. Plus, they leave them out in the sun to dry like clothes. The Greeks eat them cooked, they make a fantastic appetizer for ouzo.
In Spain, they prefer to dip the octopus in boiling water 3 times and then boil it in a copper pot. Italian chefs boil octopi with corks from white wine bottles, while the Japanese rub them with salt and cut up the meat at all kinds of odd angles. All of these methods work but it is crucial to boil the octopus on a slow fire.
All parts of the octopus can be consumed, excluding the area around the beak, the eyes and entrails. An octopus can be eaten marinated, fried, sauteed or boiled. It needs to be washed very thoroughly, then tenderized extremely well - this way it'll be tender when cooking.
Older and larger octopuses require longer heat treatment, while the smaller ones take a significantly shorter time to prepare. Before sauteing an octopus, you can marinate it in wine, olive oil and spices.
When boiling an octopus for about 5 min, the meat remains tougher but is delightful for consumption. When boiled for this long it is suitable for salads and sushi. For other culinary uses it needs to be boiled on a slow fire, between 40 to 50 min. per 2 lb (1 kg). A number of chefs prefer to throw out the water several times in order to get rid of the meat's characteristic smell. Octopus is appropriate as a main course and green salads.
Typical Mediterranean recipes recommend seasoning it with a lot of spices, fall by sauteing in red or white wine.
Benefits of Octopus
Vitamin B2, which is found in octopus meat, plays a key role in maintaining the immune system and vision. Vitamin B1 is also valuable because without it the carbs in our body won't be turned into energy but rather into fat.
The substances found in octopus stabilize metabolism, boost potency and immunity, help wounds heal faster. The low content of calories found in octopus meat make it a suitable food for people who are dieting.