Notable Nosh: Steamed Octopus
Every time I have eaten octopus in a restaurant it has either been grilled or else served cold and sliced as a sashimi selection. Recently, in Ottawa, however, I saw an appetizer selection on the menu at the Empire Grill which was called ‘Steamed Octopus alla Parmentara’. I am not sure what the Parmentara signifies (and a google search reveals nothing of note), but I couldn’t resist giving it a try. In the event, the dish, which you see pictured above, proved not only to be quite a bit different from what I was expecting but also something of a disappointment…
The menu description ran as follows:
STEAMED OCTOPUS ALLA PARMENTARA … Octopus with green onions, dried cranberries and pistachios with garlic lemon dressing served over potato puree.
What was surprising about the dish was that it was served cold (or very nearly so), which was not something I anticipated from the menu description. The octopus part was completely cold while the pureed potatoes were somewhere between cool and lukewarm. I am not sure if this was intended, or whether they were supposed to be warm and cooled off, or cold and weren’t chilled sufficiently, but the result was something I really wasn’t sure I liked.
As for the rest of the dish, the cranberry and pistachios worked nicely towards the final effect but the octopus itself was very poorly done. What I like best about properly prepared octopus is the lovely, chewy texture of the flesh but, here, the effect was dry and had rather the cardboard-like texture of canned octopus. Since they specify that their octopus is ‘steamed’ I would hate to think they actually did use a canned product but, given the quality, I have to wonder.
Anyway, as I mentioned, this dish was a disappointment, both in terms of visual appeal and taste experience and, were I to render this dish myself, the potato puree would definitely have to go. Would any of my readers have any suggestions as to a suitable replacement?