Posts Tagged octopus

Tako feast

Lucky day: tako [octopus] at the grocery store! Ok, so it’s not quite the same quality as tako fresh out of the Pacific ocean a few hours before, but it wasn’t bad.

To prepare this lovely salad, Yusuke began by scrubbing the tako in salt to reduce fishiness. After rinsing, he boiled it for just a few minutes until tender. In a large bowl, he added minutely sliced white onions and halved cherry tomatoes. Then he poured in a marinade:

  • lemon juice
  • soy sauce
  • sea salt
  • olive oil
  • rice vinegar

We ate the salad at room temperature after a few hours of marination.

The second component of this tako double-whammy was mixed rice. The following was cooked in the rice cooker:

  • rice [duh]
  • water (usual amount)
  • sake
  • soy sauce
  • dashi
  • kombu [seaweed]
  • fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • tako, boiled and thinly sliced

The tako came out fantastically soft and the ginger gave the rice a great aroma.

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New Year’s dishes

Yusuke and I shared a quiet New Year’s Eve at home, and he made us a lovely feast for the occasion. He said that the components of the menu didn’t really match, as it turned out to be a combination of stuff that we wanted to finish off from the fridge. Oh, well.


The most important part was the soba—thin buckwheat noodles. Soba is traditionally eaten in Japan for New Year’s, with the noodles symbolizing good luck for long life. This batch was a gift from my mother-in-law. It can be eaten in many different ways, but in this case, Yusuke boiled the noodles without sauce and then arranged them on a plate. We each had a bowl of dipping sauce made from soy sauce, sugar, mirin, sake, dashi, and a tiny bit of salt. We mixed in fresh green onions and either wasabi or ginger.

The eating procedure is to take a good amount of noodles from the plate, dip them into the bowl briefly (being sure to catch some green onions), and then slurp them into your mouth. I’m still working on my slurping technique.

Note also the lovely small white dish and blue bowl: Christmas presents from my mom.

tako salad

Earlier in the day, Yusuke had said that pickled tako (octopus) was a typical food eaten at New Year’s. I saw some at the grocery store, so I bought it, sort of as a joke. But then we had to use it! Hmm. Yusuke made this beautiful salad, inspired by a recipe found online.

First he chopped the tako, rubbed the surface with salt, and rinsed it. Then he boiled the pieces in water and a bit of ginger ale. The latter was in lieu of club soda, which he had read helps to tenderize the octopus. The cooked tako was mixed with chopped raw vegetables: white onions, celery, and cherry tomatoes. I believe that his recipe called for parsley instead of celery, but we wanted to use the monster stalk left over from our Christmas dinner. The salad dressing was 55 mL of rice wine vinegar, a bit of olive oil, and salt & pepper.

The final dish for New Year’s Eve was very simple: boiled pieces of cabbage with some of the sauce used for the soba, garnished with bonito flakes. I had been craving cabbage and ate about 5 servings.

On New Year’s Day, the special foods continued. The first dish was mashed sweet potatoes with sugar. Yusuke thinks he used about half a cup of superfine sugar. Unfortunately, this doesn’t quite match the sugar that would be used in Japan, which to all accounts gives a greater depth of flavour. This represented the New Year’s dish kurikinton, which should be made with either mashed chestnuts or a combination of sweet potatoes and chestnuts.

The main attraction was ozōni (お雑煮), which is essential to Japanese New Year’s. The soup had spinach, daikon, carrots, shitake mushrooms, and chicken. The broth consisted of sake, soy sauce, salt, and dashi. It was so flavourful that it was hard to believe that it was that simple. The mochi was added last, wonderfully sticky and filling.

We also had leftover tako for lunch, which was dipped in wasabi and soy sauce. Yum.

All-in-all, these were meals to promote a healthy and lucky start to 2010.

Yusuke also broke open his Christmas/birthday package of dorayaki on New Year’s Eve. So. Good.

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Tofu and tako

A pretty melange

A pretty melange

This is similar to another tofu stir fry that Yusuke often makes, but this time he used fresh(-ish) octopus instead of canned tuna.

First, he boiled the octopus until it was tender. Then sautéed the tofu in sesame oil and drained the pan. Finally, the tofu, octopus, fresh bean sprouts, and baby spinach were all stir fried, seasoned with salt and soy sauce.

The firm tofu makes this dish especially filling, and in combination with tako, the texture is very nice.

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Octopus, zucchini, and tomatoes

Chopped tako

Chopped tako

Ah, octopus. A nice grocery store near us often has a decent array of fish, and lately they’ve had succulent-looking packages of thick octopus tentacles. So we bought some. And in the interest of typing efficiency, I will henceforth use the Japanese word for octopus: tako.

Sometimes less-than-fresh tako is awfully chewy or tough, but this wasn’t bad.

Tako salad

Tako salad

For this lovely salad-like stir-fry, Yusuke first chopped the tako and spread salt on the surface. Then he boiled it in salty water until tenderish and drained off the water.

Next, he sautéd minced garlic in olive oil until the aroma was released. Then he added de-seeded and chopped tomato and zucchini. After the veggies were nearly done, he added the tako. Last was a pinch of salt, and voilà! Done.

Yusuke described it as totally garlicy and “pretty much Italian.” I described it as yum.

Modified miso soup

Modified miso soup

We also had this miso soup, which was a little different from the norm. Instead of dashi, Yusuke used powdered chicken bouillon. The veggies are green pepper, carrots, and white onions. A bit of soy milk was added at the last second before serving.

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