Octopussy Balls

24 03 2010

I’ve always been a voracious reader. When I picked up Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel, Octopussy, around age eight and asked my mother what this was, she replied it was a book I wasn’t going to read. Today of course, the Mario Bros. have more graphically animated encounters than one could ever imagine Bond having back in the days of ink and paper; such is the ever upward progress of humanity. Perhaps it is this episode of parental denial dwelling in the dark recess of my already tortured mind that causes me to seek out and consume this cephalopod. Perhaps it is that it just tastes delicious. Whatever the reason, the consequence is this fantastic treat which results from a Mediterranean twist to the Japanese classic, takoyaki (literally octopus ball). The takoyaki is like a kind of octopus fritter, often served with a soy-mayonnaise type topping. It is Japanese bar food. I got some octopus (often very cheaply obtained) with traditional takoyaki in mind, but my conversations with a Greek friend left me longing for the Aegean; hence the result.

Most octopuses (yes, it is octopuses. The root is Greek, not Latin. If it were a Latin root you would use octopi. See how much you learn on this blog) you buy is frozen. Mine was a couple of pounds, so here is how we softened it up so it would be tender and not tough. Defrost it in the refrigerator. Then:

  • Boil for 8-10 minutes
  • Remove and whack off head (not any real goodness here)
  • Place in a Dutch oven or other large heavy covered pot) at 200 degrees F and cook with herbs for about 5 hours. Here I used sprigs of oregano, thyme, fennel tops, fennel seed, lemon juice, dill, crushed whole garlic cloves and onion. The octopus will absorb these flavors during this stage.
  • Cool
  • Remove any gelatinous leg fat
  • You can keep it in the fridge for week at this point.

Since I like a little char, I quickly seared the leg pieces over high heat. Now they are ready for the fritters.

  • 1 ½ cup of octopus prepared as above, medium dice
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 Tbsp thyme
  • 1Tbsp dill
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • 1 Tbs parsley
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 11 oz (~ 2.0 cups) AP flour
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 egg whites beat to stiff peaks

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Mix all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, turmeric, cayenne, pepper and garlic salt). Add the finely chopped herbs. Mix the egg and the buttermilk together. Add the egg/buttermilk mixture and octopus to the dry ingredients. Mix well. Gently fold in the egg whites. The batter is thick and tacky at this point. You can use a small scoop ( I just used my hands) to drop an amount in a mini-muffin pan to fill it about ¾ of the way up. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. You can also deep fry these at 375 degrees F for a more traditional takoyaki or fritter.  Serve with the aioli dipping sauce (recipe follows). This was incredible with a chilled unoaked Domaine Chandon Pinot Noir Rose. Makes 24 to 30 fritters.

Aioli dipping sauce

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 8 cloves of garlic, medium chop then crushed in mortar and pestle
  • 2 Tbs of lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt

After crushing the garlic into a paste add the egg yolks. Slowly add the olive oil a little at a time, stirring constantly to form the emulsion; you can do this by hand or in a food processor or blender. Add the lemon juice and salt.




9 responses

24 03 2010

wow your cook the coolest stuff very creative, this must be your way of unwinding after long days as a DR my hubby has to do exercise

25 03 2010

You are spot on-but I probably should be exercising instead too:-)

24 03 2010

Hey Doc!
These explanations and recipe is a Godsend-or Docsend i should say! I made octopus a while back, with risotto, not knowing what I was doing, but I lucked out it tasted great; so, now I know what to do with the next one I still have in the freezer. I think I will make these fritters and the aioli will be our lebanese version – toom-, with no eggs just a bunch of lethal garlic. Thanks!

25 03 2010

That sounds awesome, I ‘d love to see that spice profile. If we do not have a local grocer to get some of the supplies, is there an internet source you recommend?

25 03 2010

these sound awesome – I would be happy with a charred piece – I love charred octopus

26 03 2010

This is a great script for a new movie ‘Doc00goodness’, and how you weave ‘octopussy’ and ‘balls’ into the most intriguing food porn post! You are the master of all food’guising he he

Chef E

26 03 2010


27 03 2010
Franklin Foodie

These sound really good, I might try making them for Easter!

28 03 2010

I hope the kids weren’t expecting chocolate eggs instead, they might bge disappointed!

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