Monday, June 26, 2017

Sumac Berry Spice Seared Octopus Salad

     A Mediterranean Style Healthy Salad!
     Seasonal ingredients are nearly always available year round because of modern transportation and shipping methods.  Summer salads are commonly offered at restaurants during the winter season, but the price of the ingredients increases due to shipping costs.  The increased cost is an indication of pushing the limits of sustainability, because the out of season ingredients that are shipped great distances require more fuel and energy to keep fresh.  The problem for consumers is when the menu prices go up, they rarely come down, so the restaurant price set for a summer salad made during winter, will not present good dining value when summer arrives.
     Sustainability related price increases are a good reason to shop local and purchase only traditional seasonal ingredients.  When summer arrives, that is the time to delve into locally harvested organic lettuce greens, vegetables and sustainable protein choices.
     Lighter fare is en vogue when the weather is hot, so poultry and seafood are in high demand.  Unfortunately there are only limited amounts of fish in the sea and once again, high prices for certain seafood items are an indicator of sustainability issues.  Paying over $10 per pound for fish that should be on the endangered species list simply is not a path to attaining sustainability as a consumer.  Learning to enjoy other species of seafood that are in greater numbers not only promotes sustainability during the summer season, the prices are lower because of the supply and demand principle.
     Octopus is usually plentiful during the summer season and the relatively low price is an indicator of sustainability.  Octopus is a great summer season protein choice, because the meat contains zero fat.  Frozen whole raw octopus is the best value, but some extra preparation time is needed.  Purchasing prepared poached octopus at a seafood market costs a little more, but this ready to eat product is a nice convenience for people that live a busy lifestyle.      
     Chilled octopus or squid salads are commonly served during the summer season in the Mediterranean region.  Italian and Greek style preparations usually feature lemon, olive oil and fresh herb flavors.  Sumac Berry Spice is another good choice for flavoring a chilled octopus salad.  In modern times, Sumac Berry Spice is most often associated with Middle Eastern and North African Mediterranean cuisines.  Back in the days of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, Sumac Berry Spice was used extensively as a medicinal concoction and it was commonly added to local seafood and poultry recipes because of its preservative properties.  
     Sumac Berry Spice has a tangy berry fruit wine flavor that goes well with seafood.  When Sumac Berry Spice is used, less lemon is needed to flavor a Mediterranean style seafood salad.  Today's simple summer salad is a good example of how Sumac Berry Spice can be used to enhance the light flavor of octopus.     

     Olive Oil Rendered Octopus Preparation:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Rendering octopus in olive oil at a low temperature will make the octopus more tender.
     Oddly enough, this entire process can be skipped, if imported Canned Octopus Pieces Packed In Olive Oil are available.  This Mediterranean canned product is the same as rendering poached octopus in olive oil.    
     Step 1:  Place 1 quart of water in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Bring the water to a boil.
     Add 2 or 3 medium size raw octopus tentacles.  (About 1 1/2 cups in volume.)
     Poach the octopus, till it is firm and opaque.
     *Octopus cooks quickly, so do not over cook octopus or it will be like rubber!
     Step 2:  Place the poached octopus tentacles in a container of ice water.
     Thoroughly chill the octopus.
     Peel or lightly scrub the thin skin membrane off of the octopus.
     Trim off any large suction cups.
     Cut the poached octopus tentacles into bite size pieces.    
     Step 3:  Place the poached octopus pieces in a small sauce pot.
     Add enough olive oil to almost cover the octopus.
     Add sea salt and coarse ground black pepper.
     Place the pot over low/very low heat.
     Gently render the octopus in the oil for 30 minutes.
     *This rendering process will make the octopus very tender.  If you see or hear any frying sound from the sauce pot, then the temperature is way too high.  If you have cooked rendered duck in the past, then this technique will be familiar.
     Step 4:  Remove the rendered octopus tentacles from the oil and place them in a container.
     Set the container aside or chill it for later use.
     *Some of the oil can be used in the next step.  The rest can be saved for cooking other seafood items.

     Sweet Red Pepper en Lemon Oil:
     This recipe yields about 1/4 cup.  (1 portion) 
     Step 1:  Place 2 tablespoons of virgin olive oil in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.
     Add 3 tablespoons of brunoise sweet red bell pepper.  (Brunoise = 1/8" dice)
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of minced garlic.
     Add 2 pinches of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1 pinch of coarse ground black pepper and sea salt.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Step 2:  Place the Sweet Red Pepper en Lemon Oil in a container.
     Set the container aside for 10 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Stir before serving.

     Salad Plate Set-Up: 
     This recipe yields 1 salad portion.
     Step 1:  Mound 2 1/2 cups of bite size mixed summer lettuce greens on the center of a plate.
     Place 1 small bunch each of red grapes and white grapes on the border of the plate.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of julienne sliced carrot over the lettuce.
     Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of thin julienne onion on the lettuce.
     Step 2:  Chill the salad set-up plate till it is needed.

     Sumac Berry Spice Seared Octopus:
     This recipe yields 1 portion.  
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil that was used to render the octopus.
     Add the rendered octopus pieces.
     Lightly sear the octopus pieces till a few golden highlights appear.
     Step 2:  Add 1/2 teaspoon of Sumac Berry Spice.
     Briefly toss the ingredients together.
     Step 3:  Remove the pan from the heat.
     Keep the pan warm on a stove top.

     Sumac Berry Spice Seared Octopus Salad:
     This recipe yields 1 salad entrée.
     Step 1:  Place the salad-set up plate on a countertop.
     Mound the warm Sumac Berry Spice Seared Octopus on top of the lettuce on the center of the plate.
     Step 2:  Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the Sweet Red Pepper en Lemon Oil over the octopus and lettuce.
     Spoon the rest of the Sweet Red Pepper en Lemon Oil on the plate around the lettuce.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle 2 pinch of Sumac Berry Spice over the octopus.

     Viola!  A Mediterranean café style tender octopus salad with the refreshing flavor of Sumac Berry Spice!

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