Top 10 Octopus Dishes in Houston
Octopus. Regardless of how it's prepared, I generally love eating the squirmy, tentacled creatures. A great, low-fat seafood option, octopus has this wonderfully distinctive texture. It's also light and fun to eat -- the perfect summertime dish. Our city's chefs must feel the same way I do, because I've found so many dishes, my original idea for a Top 5 has morphed into a Top 10. And here they are, for your eating pleasure: Top 10 Octopus Dishes in Houston.
Photo by Mai Pham Octopus carpaccio by Chef Brandi Key at Coppa, $15
10. Octopus carpaccio at Coppa
One of the most popular appetizers on the Coppa menu, the octopus carpaccio is regularly cited by the servers as a "must-have" dish, and rightly so. Cooked in wine and water, then set in a terrine mold before being quickly chilled, the octopus is then sliced so thinly that it's translucent. Paired with a small salad of mizuna greens, pickled Fresno chiles, fingerling potatoes and diced Castelvetrano olives, this fun, light appetizer is easy on the eyes and the palate.
9. Octopus in garlic butter sauce at Mambo Seafood
Photo by Mai Pham Garlic butter octopus at Mambo Seafood, $7.99 for half a pound.
Octopus may not feature on the menu in the same way that the fish does at Mambo's, but it's definitely something you can order and something you won't forget. Order it with garlic butter sauce, and you'll be amazed as I was at the deliciousness that awaits you. With a taste like Spanish tapas, and served in a generous portion that can be shared, it can be eaten by the spoonful or with an order of Mambo's famous fried rice. You'll marvel at how tasty and flavorful this dish is.
8. Pulpo al olivo at Latin Bites
Photo by Carlos Ramos Pulpo al olivo by Chef Roberto Castre of Latin Bites, $16
Peruvian Chef Roberto Castre makes an excellent sashimi-style appetizer, pulpo al olivo, from Gulf Coast octopus that is delivered to his restaurant daily. To soften the texture of the octopus and enhance its natural flavors, he boils the octopus with salt, onion and tomato. The thinly sliced pieces of octopus are arranged on a plate, interspersed with small kisses of sweet potato puree, Peruvian corn (choclo), dots of house-made aji amarillo mayonnaise and slivers of green onion, then finished off with some olive oil. Creamy, sweet, tangy, fatty and crispy, the dish has a little bit of everything, yet is distinctively Peruvian in style. Muy bueno!
7. Grilled baby octopus at Triniti
Photo by Kimberly Park Grilled baby octopus with chorizo by Chef Ryan Hildebrand of Triniti, $18
One of the new dishes on the summer menu, Triniti's baby octopus combines the lightness of cucumber with the salty essence of chorizo. The small little tentacles are charred to give it a smokiness, which is complemented well by the strong spices in the chorizo. Texturally, the crisp crunchiness of the fresh cucumbers, which are rolled and interspersed throughout the dish, serves to accent the slightly chewy firmness of the octopus flesh. Marbled potatoes and chorizo oil finish off this lovely dish.
6. Octopus carpaccio at Branch Water Tavern
Photo by Mai Pham Octopus carpaccio by Chef David Grossman of Branch Water Tavern, $14
Chef David Grossman's version of octopus carpaccio utilizes fresh local ingredients in a dish that is as refreshing as it is beautifully plated. The moist yet thinly sliced red wine-braised octopus carpaccio is topped with a medley of colorful, heirloom cherry tomatoes, grapefruit wedges, fennel and crispy garlic chips. The fennel, grapefruit and tomato give the octopus an organic spiciness and tang, while the garlic chips add a distinctive crunchy component to contrast nicely with the softer texture of the octopus, an unexpected surprise that ties the entire dish together.