Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sumac Berry Seared Octopus Salad

Close your eyes and say yum! 
     I fell in love with the flavor of sumac berry spice the first time I cooked with it in a 3 star Michelin rated French restaurant.  Its hard to describe the flavor.  Sumac berry has a tangy, fruity wine and spice flavor.  It is a common spice in Iran, Arabia and Turkey.
     Octopus Preparation:  Boil 4 cups of water in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 2 or 3 medium size octopus tentacles.
     Poach the octopus till it is firm and opaque.  (Octopus cooks quickly, so do not over cook octopus or it will be like rubber!)
     Place the poached octopus piece into a small sauce pot. 
     Add enough olive oil to cover the octopus. 
     Add sea salt and coarse ground black pepper. 
     Render the octopus in the oil over low heat for 30 minutes. 
     This rendering process will make the octopus very tender.  (If you see or hear any frying sound from the sauce pot then the temperature is way too high.  If you have cooked rendered duck, then this technique will be familiar.)
     Remove the ocopus tentacles from the oil.
     Slice the octopus into bite size pieces. 
     Heat a saute pan on medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of the rendering oil. 
     Sear the octopus pieces lightly. 
     Remove the octopus from the pan and set aside.
     Salad Set Up:  Place a mound of mixed lettuce on a plate. 
     Place mini red and white seedless grape bunches on the plate. 
     Sprinkle fine julienne sliced carrots over the lettuce. 
     Sprinkle very thin julienne onion slices on the lettuce.
     Lemon Oil Dressing:  Place a generous splash of virgin olive oil into a small mixing bowl.
     Add a generous squeeze of lemon juice.
     Add 1 small handful of  finely chopped red bell pepper.
     Add 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic.
     Add 2 pinches of chopped parsley.
     Add coarsely ground black pepper and sea salt.
     Mix the ingredients together. 
     Assembly:  Set the seared octopus on top of the lettuce.
     Spoon a small amount of the dressing over the octopus and lettuce. 
     Spoon the rest of the dressing around the salad onto the plate. 
     Sprinkle a few pinches ground dried sumac berry over the octopus.
     This is an interesting, flavorful and healthy salad!  The reason you slowly render octopus in olive oil is because octopus has no fat of its own.  Sumac berry is a perfect flavor for octopus with lemon and olive oil.  The grape bunches add a nice touch to this plate.  If you like exotic food, then this simple salad will be pleasing!  ...  Shawna

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