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  • Total Posts: 1481
  • Joined: 10/18/2005
  • Location: albuquerque, NM
octopus Sun, 07/2/06 3:02 PM (permalink)
question for our esteemed leechef;

does putting a cork into the water while cooking an octopus
really make a difference? the question was asked in the "acquired taste" forum and i wasn't sure if it belonged here.
i do know you cook squid for two minutes or 2 hours to get it tender.thanking you in advance,


    • Total Posts: 6208
    • Joined: 3/22/2003
    • Location: Gahanna, OH
    RE: octopus Sun, 07/2/06 8:59 PM (permalink)
    Now you're putting me on the spot! I have never put a cork into the water while cooking octopus, squid, scunghilli or conch. You are right about the cooking times, it's either bread the stuff and flash fry or cook it long and slow in sauce to put over pasta. I always put octopus in paella but simmer it for an hour or so before adding it to the rice, saffron mixture. The cork thing is news to me.

      • Total Posts: 560
      • Joined: 11/13/2004
      • Location: New York City, NY
      RE: octopus Sun, 07/2/06 9:09 PM (permalink)
      This would be fascinating if there was something to base it on. Like Lleechef, I always was taught that you have to either "flash cook" squid, scungilli, octopus, etc., or let them simmer for a while, otherwise, they will be tough.

      I can't think of any natural tenderizing agents that cork would have, but maybe there is some other chemical?

        • Total Posts: 924
        • Joined: 11/13/2003
        • Location: Chapel Hill, NC
        RE: octopus Sun, 07/2/06 9:26 PM (permalink)
        I did some quick Googleing on the topic, for cooking squid, too. Two things are apparent. One is that it is a Mediterranean thing. Second is that no one seems to know what a cork is supposed to do. Maybe the best answer comes from, and a reply on the question from Harold McGee.


        12-15-2005, 12:00 AM
        Harold McGee
        ChefTalk Guest Join Date: Dec 2005
        Posts: 66
        I haven’t been able to track down the origins of the cork as a supposed tenderizing agent, but I have done the experiment several times. The cork rides at the top of the pot, with maybe a couple of square millimeters in contact with the liquid, and in my experience makes no difference whatsoever—even when I covered the liquid surface with corks.


          • Total Posts: 264
          • Joined: 7/1/2005
          • Location: Clifton Park, NY
          RE: octopus Mon, 07/3/06 11:48 AM (permalink)
          Got a little nervous when I saw the heading. Thought maybe I PO'd someone. :)

            • Total Posts: 1135
            • Joined: 10/15/2003
            • Location: surf city, NC
            RE: octopus Mon, 07/3/06 4:12 PM (permalink)
            You take the rubber bands off a lobster when you cook it,why would you put cork in the water?

              • Total Posts: 231
              • Joined: 6/5/2006
              • Location: Glendale, AZ
              RE: octopus Wed, 07/5/06 6:14 PM (permalink)
              why would you put cork in the water?
              Because it's a myth/superstition and many people are superstitious and no amount of fact will ever change their minds.
                Bulldozer Rectangle

                • Total Posts: 102
                • Joined: 1/15/2001
                • Location: Houston, TX
                RE: octopus Mon, 07/10/06 6:10 PM (permalink)
                I prepared the octopus dish from Mario Batali's Babbo cookbook, and he has a cork in the recipe. The thing turned out damn tasty. Who am I to argue?

                Plus, I've got more corks lying around than about anything else. No brainer, just chuck the thing in.

                jellybear, no way I'm pulling off the rubber bands while that lobster is still alive. I like my fingers. The bug always goes in the water with rubber wristbands.

                  • Total Posts: 2429
                  • Joined: 6/17/2005
                  • Location: Kannapolis area, NC
                  RE: octopus Wed, 07/12/06 9:07 AM (permalink)
                  The Japanese usee a two step method of cooking octopus. About a minute in boiling water, dunk in cold water and two minutes in barely simmerring water.

                  Now my funny...A few years ago I was promoted and my whole family was invited to Japan for a few weeks. My boss was very kind in allowing my family to spend the day at his home w/ his family while he and I worked. (This is VERY unusal in Japan). My family speaks Japanese very poorly and his family speaks English very poorly, although their English is better then our Japanese.

                  My oldest daughter got into a discussion about that night's dinner and indicated she liked tacos (the little Mexican thingie w/ the cruchy shell). Now the Japanese word for octopus is, you guessed it, taco. That night for dinner a two or three pound octopus was proudly presented. They ate enough to be polite but we ended up w/ room service later that night.

                    • Total Posts: 1551
                    • Joined: 8/18/2003
                    • Location: wheaton, IL
                    RE: octopus Mon, 07/17/06 9:02 PM (permalink)
                    This might help in regards to soaking corks:


                      • Total Posts: 396
                      • Joined: 7/26/2002
                      • Location: Westport, CT
                      RE: octopus Mon, 07/17/06 9:57 PM (permalink)
                      Originally posted by saps

                      This might help in regards to soaking corks:


                      That reminds me of the joke where the punchline is, "Honey, I'm the real McCoy..."

                      BTW, I always put a cork in the water with the octopus.
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