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On my last trip to Australia (Perth), I was invited on a lobster boat (crayfisher they called themselves) .

One of the boxes pulled out of the water had a large (1,5m from arm to arm) octopus in it, and only some remaining casing of the lobster. The fishermen, not happy for getting an octopus for a lobster, invited me anyway to a grilled octopus "Australian" style.

Each octopus arm was cut off and seriously hammered down (using a large meat hammer) to transform a 5cm diameter arm into a 3-5mm thick filet, still raw at the time. Then it was just put about 30 seconds on each side on the charcoal grill, while only adding some sea salt and a nice quite tender octopus filet was served.

I'm in Portugal and trying to get the same result, but my "filet" just shrinks and rolls-up when putting it on the grill. Do I need to get the skin off first? If so how can I manage, I tried but was not able.

I can also imagine eventually a difference in the species caught in Portugal to the one in Australia and what I try is simply not possible?

enter image description here

2 octopus arms hammered down into a filet,
on the grill they shrank and curled-up, but tasted great and quite tender anyway

1 Answer 1

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What causes the curling?

The curling is caused by the muscle fibres contracting when exposed to heat. The primary purpose of hammering the octopus leg is to destroy the links between the muscle fibres so that when one link in the chain contracts, it does not pull through the next link.

What went wrong?

Your meat tenderizer appears to have fewer large bumps on both the head-end and the face-end of the meat tenderizer. This means that it would be more difficult to destroy all the links compared to a meat tenderizer with a larger number of smaller bumps and spikes, or even a flat face. By the time you have achieved this result with your current meat tenderizer, the octopus leg has effectively been minced and not good to grill anymore.

What can you do next time?

Freeze the octopus meat before thawing and flattening, but do not flash freeze it. The slower freezing that you would expect in a home freezer produces large ice crystals that penetrate and break the links in between the muscle fibres. On the other hand, flash freezing produces fewer crystals and therefore the act of freezing the octopus meat does not break down the muscle fibres as much.

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