Smoky Octopus Stands Out at Graffiato

At the trendy D.C. restaurant, this seafood sensation keeps gourmands coming back for more.


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Photo courtesy of Greg Powers

Italian-influenced "carb-centric" fare is the focus at the trendy D.C. eatery, Graffiato. The Smoky Octopus with Garlic potatoes and Corn Relish is a favorite among guests, and simple enough to make at home.

Smoky Octopus with Garlic Potatoes and Corn Relish

Courtesy Mike Isabella, chef-owner of Graffiato, Washington, D.C.

For the Octopus
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
3 whole octopuses, ½ pound each
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

For the Corn Relish
2 yellow corn ears, shucked
1 teaspoon canola oil
¼ cup Kalamata olives, quartered and pitted
¼ cup red onion, diced
2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
8 pea shoots, for garnish

For the Garlic Potatoes
1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1½ tablespoons garlic, minced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat an oven to 325˚F.

Combine the red wine vinegar, black peppercorns and bay leaf in a baking dish. Place the octopuses into the baking dish, with tentacles facing down and heads facing up. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the octopuses and cover the baking dish tightly with aluminum foil. Bake for 55 minutes or until tender. Octopus is done when a toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the tentacle pulls out easily.

For the corn relish, preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush the corn with the canola oil and grill on all sides, approximately 2–3 minutes. Remove the corn from the grill pan and let it cool slightly, then cut the kernels from the cob. In a mixing bowl, combine the grilled corn, olives, red onion and parsley. Drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil and Champagne vinegar, and season with the salt. Mix well.

For the garlic potatoes, place the potatoes in a medium sauce pot and cover with cold water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for approximately 6–8 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander and set aside to cool slightly. Add the potatoes and garlic to a food processor fitted with the blade and purée the mixture for 30–45 seconds. With the processor still running, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt, and purée until the mixture is smooth.

Remove the octopus from the oven and set aside on a cooking board until it is cool enough to handle. Cut each tentacle off of the heads. Discard the heads.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss the octopus tentacles with the extra virgin olive oil. Grill each tentacle for approximately 1–2 minutes on each side or until nicely charred with grill marks. The octopus is already fully cooked, so this final cooking is only meant to add a smoky flavor.

Smear the garlic potatoes evenly on the bottom of 4 individual plates. Place the grilled octopus on top of the potatoes and garnish with the corn relish. Top with the pea shoots and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Read more about Graffiato.

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