Octopus, Baby Octopus, about 6 species not differentiated at market.
Octopuses are cephalopods closely related to squid, calamari and cuttlefish. They live in marine environments ranging from shallow pools to deep water. Octopuses are found in all Australian waters but are caught commercially predominantly across southern Australia. The majority of those caught are as by-catch of trawl, dredge and pot and net fisheries. As they are a major predator of rocklobsters, octopuses are often found in lobster pots and traps, and are taken this way in WA. Products sold as 'Baby Octopus' are usually small tropical species imported from SE Asia, often from the overfished Gulf of Thailand. Imported octopus, used especially for sushi, can be very difficult to trace. Much of it is processed in Japan but it may come from fisheries in Vietnam, Spain or North Africa. The difficulty of identifying the provenance of imported octopus means it is best avoided.
The why and how of sustainability
Octopus is a fast growing, short lived species thought to be able to withstand current fishing pressure. Australian Octopus is a preferable choice to imported octopus and baby octopus, which may come from fisheries with questionable environmental practices. AMCS list octopus from Australian fisheries as 'BETTER CHOICE', but lists imported octopus as 'SAY NO'. Being resilient and sustainable, we consider octopus a GFBF Favourite!
Preparation and cooking
OCTOPUS has firm, dry ‘meaty’ flesh. If cooked incorrectly it can be very chewy. Like calamari and squid, tender octopus is achieved by either a very short cooking time on a high temperature (try stir frying or BBQ’ing), or a long slow wet cooking method such as braising. Marinating before cooking will help tenderise the meat.
There are many other techniques employed to tenderise octopus, these include throwing it against rocks or tumbling in a cement mixer (Greek), boiling with a cork (Italian), dipping 3 times in boiling water and then simmering in a copper pot (Spanish) and beating with a radish (Japanese)!
CALAMARI has similar flesh to octopus. It is slightly less dense, but is still suited to the same cooking methods. Fry or BBQ briefly, or Braise in a casserole or other slow cooked wet dish.
Learn how to ensure tender octopus everytime by checking out the GFBF tutorial How to Cook Octopus
Check out the delcicious GFBF recipe for Braised Baby Ocotopus