Sunday, September 6, 2009

Chorba Ahktoboot

I love that the word for octopus in Algeria is Ahktoboot. Like eight boots. Could you imagine an octopus wearing BOOTS!! anyway.....

Todays recipe is Octopus Stew. i hate the word octopus. I hate how they look raw. I hate how they taste if you either cook them too long of dont cook them long enough. I LOVE them when they are prepared right. The key is, you cook them either really fast, or really long. anything in between is like cheing on sea leather. yea, sea leather, thats what i said.

I used a general recipe. not really algerian, because while I used the general idea, I also incorporated other techniques and ingredients, after researching spanish, greek, and italian versions. (all cultures that are octo-boot friendly). I also had the brilliant idea that a splash of vinegar would go perfect in this stew, and i was right!

so here goes.

2 octopi, cleaned (about 1.5 pounds each) OR 3 pounds baby octopi, cleaned and beak removed.
4 large tomatoes or 8 plum tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, depending on size, chopped.
1 chile of your choice (i used a little bit of chipotle, although the recipe called for green chiles)
1 tbsp tomato paste
about a tablespoon red or white wine vinegar, or cider vinegar.
salt and pepper to taste (add only later, or you may over season)

chop the onion and saute until golden in a small amount of oil. add garlic and cook until aromatic. add the chiles or chile paste, or whatever. add a little water so they dont burn while you prepare the fish.

chop the octopus into one inch chucks. leave the long skinny ends long, they will curl up all cute in the soup. remember they ugly grey fish will turn pretty purple with heat. also, you dont need to skin it, i know it looks bad but it tightens up. add to the onion mixture. the octopus should release a lot of water and it becomes soupy soon. chop the tomatoes and add to the soup, add the tomato paste. add the vinegar. reduce heat to medium low. cook for 2.5 hours or so, or until the fish is tender. you can add water for soupy texture, or let it evaporate some, for a stewlike consistency. I opt for the latter. pictures coming up. i spared you the prep pictures in order to maybe get you to make this...

AFTERWARD: ok, after i have eaten this I have this to say. the important thing is that i lerned to not make it rubbery. in retrospect i may have left the legs whole or cut them in half instead. also, from now on i am going to cook octopus in a non soupy format, like a sauce or a stir fry. not that this was bad, but it just didnt seem like stew is the right place for these buggers. the point is, cook fast, or cook long and slow.

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