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This is definitely one of the weirder questions I've asked, but is there any easy way to massage an octopus?

I recently watched the movie "Jiro Dreams of Sushi" and in that movie they show the massaging of the octopus which Jiro insists must be done for 50 minutes. There is no way I am going to spend an hour massaging an octopus.

In the video here we can see a different master sushi chef demonstrating massaging octopus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89wwP--bHMg

According to this guy his father massaged the octopus by putting it in a washing machine. I am not sure I want to try that and am wondering if there is a kitchen oriented way to massage an octopus rather than using the laundry room?

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    Years ago, when in Greece, I watched fishermen slap them on the rocks. McGee addresses the pounding in his classic NYT article on preparing octopus: nytimes.com/2008/03/05/dining/05curious.html
    – moscafj
    Dec 6, 2021 at 11:23
  • Same here @moscafj, massaging isn't the way, it's outright abuse.
    – GdD
    Dec 6, 2021 at 17:04

2 Answers 2

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In the olden days fishermen used to "beat" or hit the octopus against a rock on the shore repeatedly. The main purpose of this endeavour was to soften its hard texture, so that it would take less time to cook it. The other (and more modern) option is to put a fresh octopus in a freezer and let it deep freeze for at least several hours. That breaks down "the fibers or texture" of the meat.

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Stand Mixer.

I have never done this but here's how I'd approach it. Some kind of electric appliance is needed since you don't want to do it by hand.

The first thing that comes to mind is a stand mixer. Put the octopus in the bowl and use the dough hook attachment and low speed to massage. Depending on the texture of the octopus the hook might just smoosh the octopus around without massaging. To get a better action you might try the other attachments, or even improvise by strapping various kitchen utensils (wooden spoon, fish slice, spaghetti server) to the hook for a better massage. I would use cable ties to attach the implements. Note: This is not the intended use of a stand mixer. I would be happy to try myself, but I advise against doing it you have any hesitation in your ability to strap things to other things without causing mishap.

Another idea is to do it backwards -- attach one leg of the octopus to the hook so it gets swung around and smacked against the sides of the bowls. Maybe put some other things in the bowl for it to smack into.

If you have no stand mixer (like me) then I would improvise something similar using an electric hand mixer, large bowl, and probably more cable ties.

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  • You're suggesting zip-tying random kitchen implements to the dough hook? That would be a great way to destroy your expensive stand mixer.
    – Sneftel
    Dec 6, 2021 at 14:55
  • @Sneftel if you use thin thinnest cable ties, they'll snap rather than stalling the motor, and don't use anything too hard/heavy. I'd use with care at first, and even once tested wouldn't go too far away. OTOH the K beater of a Kenwood should do the job without the need to attach random implements
    – Chris H
    Dec 6, 2021 at 14:58
  • If the cable tie snaps, now you've got a spatula (or whatever) rattling around in the mixer bowl, chaotically denting things and threatening to whack anybody who reaches for the power slider.
    – Sneftel
    Dec 6, 2021 at 15:27
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    @ChrisH Yes an existing attachment doing the job is better.
    – Daron
    Dec 6, 2021 at 15:40
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    @ShaneShepherd . . . this might also get pieces of broken hand mixed into the food.
    – Daron
    Dec 20, 2021 at 16:23

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