On this episode of Deep Dive, Erizo chef and Eater Young Gun ‘19 Jacob Harth shows us what goes into the intense process of cooking the giant pacific red octopus found in Tillamook Bay in Portland, Oregon.
This type of octopus, which is plentiful in this part of the country, usually weighs anywhere from 20 to 100 pounds, and measures 10 to 12 feet in length. It loves to eat crab, and often eats all of the crab in fishermen’s catches; by buying and cooking the octopus for his fish-focused restaurant, Harth is also helping local fishermen who lose their day’s catch.
The tough octopus is difficult to cook, so the chef freezes and unfreezes it several times to help tenderize it before embarking on the ancient Japanese technique of dunking it in boiling water to get the tentacles to curl. The tentacles are then grilled over an open flame, and brushed with a shitake mushroom paste.
“I love octopus, I have a lot of respect for these creatures,” says Harth. “But I also think they play a vital role in regard to what we eat, because we have to rotate our fisheries to things that have really high populations.”