I recently was sent some samples from a Pitenis Bros. in Greece that produces dips, pickled vegetables, dips and smoked fish and seafood. One of the more intriguing and delicious items in the care package sent to me was the smoked octopus. Yes, smoked octopus. Much like eel, trout or mackerel, the octopus also gets a smoked treatment and one that I tried for the first time with this product.
The tentacles are smoked then thinly sliced lengthwise and packed in vacuum-sealed plastic. The outside of the octopus is firm, a purlple/brown hue and an obvious smoked aroma wafts up to your nose. The white inside of the octopus is soft, tender – great textural contrast. One could simply drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil on the smoked octopus, squeeze some lemon juice and sprinkle some dried Greek oregano.
This past weekend, I was in the mood for some Greek taverna fare with some seafood, meze and side dishes. In Greece, one can often order/find some potato salads with some component of fish incorporated in the dish. It could be smoked eel, mackerel, preserved anchovies (gavros) , sardines or pickled octopus. The smoked octopus – savory and tender is a wonderful contrast to the tangy potato salad tossed with scallions, mustard, wine vinegar, herbs and radishes. Yeah, radishes.
I’ve been on a radish kick since discovering that after all these years, I actually love the taste of these zesty and crunchy vegetables. I have also been enjoying the radish greens that usually come with the bunch of radishes. They are a peppery green and go perfectly well as part of a salad mix. Here, some radish leaves are tossed with the potato salad and the spicy greens are a nice complement to the tangy salad.
Most of you will not have access to smoked octopus but you can add some grilled octopus (one of my faves) in to the mix or another smoked fish like eel, mackerel, trout or sardines. Make the potato salad, top with some of your favourite preserved fish and serve as a side or appetizer (meze). Below is a recipe for four, the photo shows a meze sampling. Just you watch this potato salad disappear!
Potato Salad With Radishes & Smoked Octopus
four large potatoes, skins on
1 Tbsp. of Dijon mustard
4-5 scallions, thinly sliced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. of red wine vinegar
1 pickle, diced
2-3 radishes (well-rinsed), thinly sliced + handful of radish leaves
2 Tbsp. of chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. of dry Greek oregano
salt and pepper to taste
garnish with smoked octopus, eel, mackerel or trout
- Add your potatoes into a pot and add some salt to the water and bring to a boil (leave skins on potatoes). Reduce to a simmer and boil until the potatoes are fork-tender. Drain the potatoes and replace the with cold water in the pot. Allow the potatoes to cool until you can safely handle them (potatoes should still be warm).
- Add the sliced scallions, garlic, mustard, olive oil, vinegar, herbs and pickles in a bowl. Now with the back of a knife, peel away the skins of the potatoes and discard. Cut your potatoes into fork-size chunks and add into the bowl along with the sliced radishes and hand-torn radish leaves.
- Toss the salad until the dressing is mixed-well and all the ingredients are well-coated. Taste and adjust seasoning with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Plate and place the smoked octopus on top, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of dried Greek oregano. Serve with some Ouzo or Tsipouro on ice.
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