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Mastering Octopus

Making a good Master Stock is the key

Recently I have been consumed by all things octopus, and when they jumped out at me at the local markets, I knew I wanted to make a great Octopus dish, and so here it is. I think a lot of people are scared of failure with the cooking process, but if you stick with it, the results are definitely worth the time you put into it.

Making the Master Stock

MammaJo Masterstock:

3 Tbsp Chinese Rice Wine 2 Tbsp Dark Soy 1 Tbsp Light Soy 1 cube palm sugar(crumbled) A head of Garlic cloves crushed 2-3 cm pice of ginger - peeled and sliced 7 star anise 1 red Shallot sliced 1 Tbsp sesame oil 5 drops green Mandarin essential oil (or peel if you prefer) 5L water

Place all ingredients in stockpot/slowcooker and bring to boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for about 30 mins to infuse the flavours.

In the meantime, clean the Octopus and remove head if not using. I removed the head, and cleaned it - removing the ink sack and other internals ( which is in a sac, so it is easier than it sounds). I then used the casing into the stock and fried it up and it was delicious!

In a separate pot of boiling water, dip the octopus in 3 times slowly - you will see the tentacles curl up. Doing this makes sure that the skin will remain on while you cook it.

Use this stock to slow braise your protein for 3 hours or more depending on what it is, and then skim off fat and impurities, strain and you can freeze to reuse again - add more liquid to replenish and keep it growing. There are some master stocks in Asia that are rumoured to be hundreds of years old! I slow cooked these octopus for 3 hours, then grilled with a Harissa spice mix I have been playing around with, and on the bbq, or griddle pan, it charred and caramelised beautifully! A Pork Belly or Lamb shank may require longer - I’d start at around 5 hours and go from there. Be careful with letting it go too long with Octopus, as it may start to fall apart if left in for too long! If the tentacles are smaller, leave in for less time. You can test with a knife or skewer to check on tenderness, and once it goes through easily, you can remove. Allow to cool down in the stock if you have time.

If you don't have any essential oils for this recipe, you can substitute citrus peel or zest to give you the flavour - and play around with other aromatics that mix in with the end result you are looking for.

I added oil, Harissa spice and some tomato paste to the cooked octopus, then used a very hot griddle pan (or BBQ) to caramelise and cooked until charred and sticky. You could substitute other spice mixes to give you the flavour you want - adding lime at the end is always a nice idea as it will give a blast of freshness to the dish when you serve it!

Happy cooking and I look forward to seeing the Master Stock in use in many dishes for hundreds of years to come!

PS - If you love a spicy Harissa mix, then stay tuned for some new flavours which will be coming out in time for the Aussie Summer!

Mamma Jo


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