I bought a boiled octopus leg at the Japanese grocery store on the weekend but I did not use it. I thought I should use it for something before it goes bad. I usually make Japanese dishes from octopus but this evening, we had already opened a bottle of “Bennett family Cabernet Sauvignon 2006”. This wine will not go well with “sumiso-ae” 酢みそ和え. So, I concocted this dish; sort of Italian in style but I did not follow any recipe or I did not have any dish in mind to base this one on.
Octopus: The tentacle was medium in size, just boiled but not previously vinegared. I just sliced it rather thinly. To prevent it from getting too tough during cooking, I made shallow scores on one side.
I decided on making a quick tomato sauce “on the fly”. So I skinned Campari tomatoes (4) and cut them into large chunks. I crushed and minced garlic (2 fat cloves). I removed the stone from black olives (6 or so, I am not sure what kind).
In a small skillet, I added olive oil (3 tbs) on low flame and added the garlic, red pepper flakes and slowly cooked it until the garlic became fragrant and very slightly brown. I added the tomatoes, chopped black olive, salt, and pepper. I turned up the heat to medium and cooked for 2-3 minutes (This is not really a tomato sauce). I then added slices of octopus and cooked for 30 more seconds or just until warm–not really cooking it further. I cut the heat and tasted it. I adjusted the seasoning by adding salt and a pinch of sugar since I thought it was a bit on the acidic side. I was thinking of adding lemon juice but changed my mind and only added grated lemon zest (using a micrograter) to give it a lemony flavor. I garnished with chopped parsley (If I had fresh thyme, I may have used thyme). My wife quickly toasted some bread (store bought semolina bread) for mopping up the juice.
For an instant improvised dish, this was not bad at all. The octopus slices were tender and not chewy. The red pepper flakes gave a pleasant buzz in your mouth. Even some acidity did not complete with the red wine we were having. This cab from the Bennett family winery is a middle of the road Napa cab, not over-the-top and not too austere.