This recipe is short sweet and very Roman. They liked their seafood as much then as we do today. The tastes may not have always been the same but for a high dinner Primus, fish and/or seafood was a must!
For octopus: pepper, liquamen and laser. Serve
The notes say that there are several ways in which octopus was cooked. One of the fastest being, unskinned to preserve the beautiful colors to star and poaching for no more then 5 minutes. The next step would be to allow the octopus to cool slowly. (Faas, pp. 341)
1 octopus or several baby octopi
2 tbs ground pepper corns
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs garlic or 1 tsp of Asafoetida
The second method was to cook for several hours in a very low temperature in white wine, water and herbs. Garlic or asoafoetida could have been added to the water in place of laser.
I have chosen to do a quick boil with asafoetida as the spice with peppers instead of garlic. Asafoetida is also known as devils dung, stinking gum, and giant fennel. (Wikipedia). As the first two names indicate this spice is very malodorous. The benefit of using asafetida is that when cooked in a dish, this pungent herb tastes like leek or mildly of garlic. Be ready to air out any kitchen in which asafetida is used in!
Once the spices were assembled,
I started a pot of water, adding in pepper then the asafetida.
These small octopus cook very quickly, much like shrimp. The color change is quite vivid, going from a grey color to a purple/pink. The actual flesh firmed up with an almost rubber like quality. The octopi cooked for 5 minutes then cooled slowly in the cooking liquid for another 30.
This is one of the fastest dishes I’ve ever made. Even with the inclusion of spices to the water, the cooking of the octopi is very short! Instead of an hour or 3 for a dish, this was 10 minutes tops.
The octopi are a little chewy and a little peppery/onion. Mostly chewy though. I probably will not make this for a mundane dish…but at least I now know of one period way to cook octopus!