One of the main things in Italian cooking is the use of fresh ingredients, and that is the same thing you can expect from Calabrian food. A perfect example of this is Insalata di Polpo, otherwise known as Octopus Salad.
A prized seafood in Calabria, as well as in many Asian cuisine, octopus is one of the most popular ingredients in many traditional dishes in the region. And no, it is not the same as calamari, although octopus is indeed often confused with this other seafood.
To clarify, calamari is a type of squid, not octopus. Although, both are cephalopods, the two are not actually the same creature. Also, octopus has long been considered to have a more delectable briny flavor and texture than squid.
But aside from all that, octopus also has a lot of health benefits. What are these? Read below to find out.
Much like most meats, octopus is loaded with proteins. And you need protein for building and repairing muscles and tissues.
This means that octopus is good for the building and healing of bones.
This element can increase energy, calms nerves, and helps relive muscle aches and spasms.
An important component in many essential body processes, Vitamin B12 helps keep bones and red blood cells healthy.
Other health benefits you ca get from octopus meat are Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Copper and Selenium, all of which are essential minerals to the human body.
Cooking octopus for your octopus salad takes some bit of technique. If you’re not precise about it, you may end up with chewy rubbery meat. And you wouldn’t want that. Now, the best kind of octopus, as with other seafood, is to get fresh ones from the market. To cook fresh octopus to perfection, simply take note of the following tips:
In cooking octopus, different methods will yield different results. Cooking it under 5 minutes will give you a chewy meat but with a pleasant texture. On the other hand, a long a slow cooking process will give you a tender texture, which can be best for most dishes. Keep in mind, however that cooking it too long may give you a dry, tasteless, and rubbery meat. So best avoid that, especially if you’re making octopus salad.
Typically served in Calabrian restaurants, the main ingredients of insalata di polpo are boiled octopus, herbs, spices, and some lemon juice. It is typically a summer salad and served as an antipasto.
It also makes a perfect seafood dish for the holiday season such as in the Feast of the Seven Fishes. But you can totally also prepare it on regular days. In fact, it will make a delicious antipasto for almost any primo dish you can think of.
How to prepare this yummy seafood salad? Find out below!
Note: You can also add diced boiled potatoes to this salad and make it into an in insalata di polpo e patate, which is Octopus and Potato Salad in English. This salad is a traditional dish typical in the regions of Liguria and Tuscany.