In my early twenties, I visited Japan and stayed with a family in Tsu for a couple of weeks. It was there my young self learned the meaning of the term culture shock.
I did my very best to be polite and enthusiastic, which was the best way to be respectful to my hosts, but the day they took me to a takoyaki restaurant was the day I faltered. I simply couldn’t fix my face enough to feign octopus enjoyment. My friend Mayumi made fun of my “epic fail” the rest of the trip, even going as far to purchase a cartoon octopus print to send me home with.
My, how times have changed. I would LOVE to visit Japan again and gorge on takoyaki. But whether that happens or not, I can get my fill of octopus stateside, where the preps are as varied as the people who serve them. Octopus on menus is trendy—it’s time to tackle the tentacle, if you haven’t already.
Here are a few dishes to tempt you, served at some of the most distinctive tables in the South:
Hugo’s / Houston, Texas / Pulpo al Carbón: Grilled Octopus with Onions, Pepper, and Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa
Graffiato / Washington, DC / Charred Octopus with Tomato Mostarda, Romaine and Mint
Stella’s, Richmond, Virginia / Grilled Octopus Meze with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Red Wine Vinaigrette
But we are all for encouraging kitchen experimentation as well:
Trust me (no matter what my expression held in the past)—prepared right, octopus is one delicious delicacy!