It’s summer in L.A. and it’s HOT! It’s also a time to be celebrating seafood, given that we just returned from ten weeks in coastal Italia and we ate the highest quality seafood you can imagine. My go to fish store in Italy was Pescheria Moreno in Senigallia. Everything they had was super fresh and local and the husband and wife team who owned the place had great ideas for preparing each kind of fish.
I sometimes think of Los Angeles as a “seafood desert,” which is especially ironic since we’re on the Pacific ocean. Good quality seafood that’s not completely unaffordable is hard to come by; rather scary stuff is to be found all over in big markets that have no idea what they are doing. So we’ve planted our flag at Cape Seafood & Provisions on Fairfax Avenue. They have a great, carefully curated selection of seafood. Cape Seafood is also one of the only places I know in LA that offers locally-caught seafood. They also get, or can order, interesting items—like octopus—from other regions.
So here’s a simple recipe that requires you to find some octopus. All the other elements are based on what you have on hand and that can make an attractive summer plate. Enjoy playing with what’s in your garden or what looks good in the local market!Print
- One cleaned and defrosted octopus
- 1 dozen Manila clams
- White wine
- Rosemary sprigs
- Chopped parlsey
- Shelled fava beans (or fresh peas)
- Swiss chard (or kale)
- 1 cup cannelini dried, then soaked over night
- A few nice tomatoes
- Good quality olive oil
Cook your octopus:
- Place the whole octopus in a pot and cover with water. (You can attempt to heighten the flavor by adding wine, lemon, bay leaves, peppercorns to the liquid, but I’m honestly not sure any of this makes a difference; the cork thing—advice you might find on the internet to put a cork in the water when you cook octopus—is just crazy.) Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook until tender. The time required will vary widely depending on the weight of the octopus (60 to 90 mins). Just stick it with a sharp knife to see if it’s tender; when tender, it’s done. Let it cool in the poaching liquid.
- Let the octopus cool completely in the liquid. Lift from the pot and place on a cutting board. Remove the long tentacles with a knife. If they are really big, cut them right down the middle. Use the rest of the octopus, chopped up, in a potato salad or in a quick tomato sauce.
Make the beans and clams
- Drain the soaked beans. Place in a pot and cover with clean water. Bring to boil and lower to simmer and cook until the beans are tender. Drain.
- In a saute pan with a cover, place the clams, a little wine and a couple of rosemary sprigs. Turn the heat to high and then lower to medium. Cook until the clams have opened. Remove the opened clams to a bowl and discard any that didn’t open. Remove the rosemary stems leaving any leaves in the pan.
- Add some chopped garlic to the clam-wine broth and cook until the garlic has lost its strong taste. Add the drained beans to the broth and gently stir to incorporate. Season with salt and pepper as you like.
- Remove most of the clams from their shells and add them to the beans with any collected juices. Reserve a few clams in shells for garnish. Add the chopped parsley to the beans and stir.
Make the other goodies:
- Fava bean puree: In a small food processor, add cooked and shelled fava beans, mint, salt/pepper and enough olive oil to puree into a smooth but too not-too-runny paste. Avoid adding any cheese, since this will be served with seafood.
- Sautéed greens: Remove the stems from Swiss chard or other greens. Prepare a pot of boiling water with some salt added. Chop the stems into 1/2-inch pieces and place in the boiling water for 5 mins or so. Meanwhile, rough chop the Swiss chard leaves and then add to the boiling water. After a short 1 minute, drain to a colander. Wipe the pot dry and add some olive oil and a pinch of red pepper to the same pot, heat and add some chopped garlic. Quickly sautéed the garlic but don’t burn. Add the drained greens and quickly stir to incorporate the oil and the garlic. Squeeze in some lemon. Remove from heat.
Assemble the final dish:
- Fire up your BBQ grill or a grill pan. When nice and hot, drizzle a little olive oil all over the octopus and grill it till a little charred. Flip and char the other side.
- Meanwhile, slice the tomato in half (stem to bottom) and brush with a little olive oil. Place the cut side down on the grill till you get some nice grill marks.
- Assemble the plate as shown; drizzle some really good olive oil over the entire dish and serve.