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Octopus in Seattle


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Octopus in Seattle

Tom Armitage | Sep 6, 2009 11:58 AM

Where is the best octopus in Seattle? I have had a terrible time finding good grilled octopus. Most recently at Café Juanita, and prior to that at Sitka and Spruce, Tavolata, and other esteemed restaurants, the grilled octopus has been dry, mealy, and tough. I have had wonderful grilled octopus in Greece, where the octopus had some nice char from the wood grill, but remained moist and flavorful. Alas, I have not had any luck finding an equivalent version in Seattle.

Perhaps the reason is the time and effort it takes to properly tenderize an octopus, although I assume most restaurants use frozen octopus, and freezing helps to tenderize an octopus. Also, the Greek octopus (htapothi sti skhara) is typically cooked for 45 minutes to an hour over low coals, and I suspect that local kitchens cook the octopus for a much shorter time over a much hotter grill. Whatever the reason, I’ve been frustrated in my search for tender, moist, and flavorful grilled octopus in Seattle.

Although it is not often available, I recently had some wonderful raw octopus sashimi at Kisaku Sushi. Raw octopus must be sliced very thinly because it is otherwise too tough to chew, and the flavor of raw octopus is very delicate and somewhat difficult to taste. The octopus usually served at sushi restaurants is poached which enhances the octopus’s flavor and sweet aromas. I like to have poached octopus lightly grilled (just a few seconds on the grill so as to lightly char the exterior of the octopus slices but not further cook them) served as sashimi with just a little salt on the side of the plate for dipping.

In addition to the raw or poached octopus available at a good sushi restaurant like Kisaku or Shiro, I like Harvest Vine’s and Txori’s Galician-style octopus with red potato, pimenton, and olive oil (pulpo a feira). In contrast to the dry and chewy grilled octopus I’ve had at Seattle restaurants, Harvest Vine’s version is tender, moist, and flavorful.

Any suggestions for places In Seattle that serve octopus, especially grilled octopus, to swoon over?

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