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Soft octopus: the expert tells how to choose and cook it – Italian Cuisine


How to do the soft octopus? It is the king of shellfish, one of the most appreciated and sought after fish products. As long as it is of quality. If indeed a good one octopus it turns out to be tasty, savory and soft, the poor one has little flavor and, above all, tough and rubbery meat.
The first defect is to be attributed to provenance, the second to the way it is treaty before the sale and, at home, before cooking.

171526The number one pitfall represents hardness and rubberiness: it is a moment indeed to transform a delicious mollusk into a "shoe sole". There are many tricks, starting with freezer, often paradoxically recommended (and for various purposes) with fresh fish.

Do not spend time instead in cooking with suighero caps, since it is an example of absolutely wrong folk wisdom. This tradition is born among fishermen, but with all other purposes.

The fishermen instead are usual beat them on the rocks and it is said that if freshly caught, the octopus actually softens.

There are many recipes, from octopus with potatoes to gallega, and the traditions associated with its cooking, which in some cases involve the removal of skin and suckers, among the most varied.

To clarify all these aspects we went to the fish market with Sandra Ciciriello (*), partner of Viviana Varese in their Alice Restaurant (click here), in Milan.

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The first clarification of Sandra is known: "Octopus is only what it has two rows of suction cups along the tentacles ". The molluscs that have only one are of other species, such as the dormice.
Then, he settles once and for all the diatribe between octopus and octopus: "They are the same shellfish and today, by law, the name of sale in the fish market can only be octopus".

Having established what we are buying, let's see how to understand if it is a good buy.

Nostrano and fresh
To begin with, you need to check the fishing area that – we remember – must always be indicated on the label. The octopus national it is very precious, fished on the coasts of the Tirreno as on those ofAdriatic, from Liguria to Puglia, from Tuscany to Sicily.
It can arrive on the benches still alive, as Sandra shows us touching a tentacle making us notice how the suction cups retract suddenly.
Moreover, the octopus of the day has a color very clear, even creamy white (especially under the head), which gradually becomes pink, darker and gray as the mollusk "ages".

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Defrosted from Morocco
Returning to the origin, the octopus habitat, which is caught all year round, extends to the whole Mediterranean. Outside Italy, the best comes from Morocco, both from the coasts overlooking the Mare Nostrum and from the Atlantic ones: "In the North African country, octopus fishing has for some years quota", says Ciciriello." The fishermen have shares that they must respect, and this affects the conservation of the species and the quality, which is excellent: from Morocco comes the absolute best octopus frozen, that is defrosted at the point of sale ".

Frozen? But isn't it always better to buy fresh fish? The octopus is the exception that confirms the rule: "Cold is the best way to enervate the meat of the octopus. This is why putting the fresh one day in the freezer, then thawing and cooking it, is a great way to have a tender octopus after cooking. "

Traditional curling
The other system is "Curl it": "At home I used to put the octopus in a basket (perfect for the salad spinner) with salt and ice, then I placed it in the sink. back and forth, 'ninnandolo', for about a quarter of an hour: the octopus made foam and emitted dark water, almost black. At the end of the treatment, he was ready for cooking ".

Even today this technique is adopted, as Sandra reminds us, at port of Bari where the fishermen gather the octopuses in big baskets that shake on the pier.

The best cooking
Back home with the best octopus on the market (remembering that the defrost is consumed within 24 hours), it's time to cook it. A delicate phase that, however, with the right tricks, it is impossible to go wrong.

There is a Neapolitan saying which reads: "The octopus is cooked in his water"." Boiling it in so much water, the flavor is lost ", explains Sandra." The best thing is to put it with just a finger of water in the casserole or even in pressure cooker, as Viviana does for her recipe ". Covered and brought to the fire, during cooking the octopus itself will emit a abundant liquid, red and savory that the chef uses, in small quantities, making it thicken to create a accompanying sauce.

THE times they are quite long, about 40-50 minutes for a one kilo octopus, which are reduced to about twenty in a pressure cooker. In all cases the octopus is cooked to perfection when a toothpick, inserted between the tentacles and the head, easily enters.

Remember then don't salt it: in general, it is already sufficiently tasty and in case you can adjust the flavor later.

Once boiled, the octopus is the perfect base for many recipes, from thesalad with potatoes to a pasta sauce.To enhance and intensify the marine taste, cooking is ideal to the plate. It is sufficient to scald it, for 3-4 minutes, over high heat in a non-stick pan with a lid, or on a cast iron plate. Or try the even more delicious alternative, toasting it on the embers of the barbecue.
In all cases, you will bring to the table a large dish that, following the advice of the expert, will be impeccable.

Roberta Fontana

(*) Sandra Ciciriello is an authority on the subject, that's why.
"I have been dealing with fish for thirty years. I started in the markets, I became a buyer turning all the suppliers in Italy and participating in auctions to bring the best of fish from Chioggia to Manfredonia, from Viareggio to Anzio. in retail, I had my own retail business, I treated the fresh, the preserved, the frozen … ".

All this before entering, in 2003, the adventure in catering. Today he is maître, sommelier and tireless business woman: with Viviana they have recently inaugurated, within Eataly Emerald (click here), Alice's Gastronomy.
But he never stopped loving and buying the best fish. And walking with her through the fish market stalls is a fascinating journey.

The extra virgin olive oil is not all the same: the advice to choose it – Italian Cuisine


How to extricate yourself among the many labels of extra virgin olive oil present in large retailers? Our tips to choose as consciously as possible

Extra virgin olive oil it is not all the same: some derive from monocultivar olives, others from a miscellanea of ​​olives, others are made with olives coming from the European Union. On the shelves of supermarkets the choice is very wide, it is often difficult to understand what kind of extra virgin olive oil we are buying. For this it is fundamental to know how to read the label, which can provide us with the necessary information so as not to make a mistake.

Labels, guarantee of transparency and quality

Each label on the bottle of extra virgin olive oil tells something about him: who has milled olives, where they have been milled and where they have been harvested for the production of that particular oil. It may happen that olives come from one or more countries of the European Union, or that they have all been collected in an Italian region and then processed in a mill in our country. In this case also the words "100% Italian product" appear. Each label then specifies that it is indeed an extra virgin olive oil, "an oil of a superior category, obtained directly from olives and solely by mechanical processes ". This information is mandatory, can not be missing if it is an extra virgin olive oil. Beyond that, one must appear nutritional table, with indications of energetic value, fats, saturated fatty acids, carbohydrates, sugars, proteins and salt.

The "optional" information

On the labels some information can appear that better define the characteristics of extra virgin olive oil. It can be specified "First cold pressing", or "cold extracted": the first concerns extra virgin olive oils obtained at less than 27 ° C with the first mechanical pressing of olives made using hydraulic presses, while the second refers to extra virgin olive oils, always obtained less than 27th, with a process of centrifugation of olive paste. Optional information may include those relating toacidity of the oil (which can not be higher than 0.8%), taste characteristics and related to the harvesting campaign. All news that help to better understand what type of oil we are buying, to make a choice as conscious as possible.

In the tutorial all the tips to choose and best preserve your extra virgin olive oil.

Yogurt, which to choose to lose weight – Italian Cuisine


Choosing the right fridge counter is not easy. There are different types and not all are so healthy. To avoid mistakes, here is the advice of a nutritionist

The yogurt for breakfast, energy recharge. Consumed instead of dessert at the end of a meal, it favors the digestive process. Eaten at the time of snacking away the sense of hunger and strengthens even more the intestinal flora because the good bacteria of which is rich away from meals are able to carry out more their protective action against the intestine. There are many types and based on different ingredients. Choosing the right fridge counter is not easy at all, especially if you are on a diet or have a few extra pounds to lose. With the help of the doctor Vittoria Candita, biologist nutritionist, we see how to orientate in the choice.

Is yogurt an ally of the line?

"Yogurt when consumed properly helps keep us healthy and in line. It brings a great quantity of minerals like calcium, useful for the bones. Ensures, then, many vitamins: H, perfect for the health of hair and nails; PP, precious for digestive functions; and those in group B, involved in immune processes. In addition, it provides noble proteins, essential for the construction of muscles and essential fatty acids such as Omega 3, which promote the health of heart, arteries and brain, "explains nutritionist Vittoria Candita.

What is the best for those on a diet?

«The whole white yogurt ensures all macronutrients (carbohydrates, lipids and proteins) and is more complete nutritional compared to other types. In addition, compared to the lean one ("light", "0% fat) that provides more sugar, gives a greater sense of satiety, useful for those on a diet or have a few extra pounds to lose."

Better cow or goat yogurt?

«Compared to cow's milk, goat's yogurt is more digestible. In fact, it provides lipids that are digested more easily from the intestine. However, pay attention to the label on the package. Some types can make more calories and fat ".

Better Greek or Icelandic?

"Greek and Icelandic yogurt called Skyr, which is actually a cheese, share many properties, like the richness of vitamins. Skyr, however, has the advantage of having less fat and more protein. Both can be safely consumed by those on a diet ".

How to choose it: look at the label

"The ideal is choose yogurt that has the shortest list of ingredients. It must contain only milk and live cultures. Instead, those containing added sugar such as fructose should be avoided, which on the label may be referred to as "fruit sugar" or "grape juice". Those who are on a diet or need to lose a few extra pounds should then avoid the types that contain fruit or cereals, various flavors, glucose or fructose syrup and preservatives . Attention, then, to nutritional values. «The advice is to choose a yogurt that has a quantity of carbohydrates and sugars not higher than 5-6 grams and that brings from 50 to 65 kilocalories per 100 grams. And finally, it is important to dwell on the expiry date. «As it gets closer, the number of good bacteria in the product decreases and, consequently, the benefits of this product are reduced.