Deep golden brown pan-broiled octopus tentacles are served atop a mound of seasoned couscous and drizzled with an unusual pesto made with arugula and walnuts instead of the expected basil and pine nuts.
- Olive Oil - 2 cups
- Jalapeno - 1, peeled, seeded, deribbed, and minced
- Curry paste - 2 tablespoons
- Sesame seeds - 2 tablespoons
- Octopus - 1 whole, large, cleaned (about 1 pound)
- Arugula Pesto
- Olive Oil - 1 cup
- Arugula - 3 cups
- Walnuts - 1 cup
- Anchovy Fillets - 1, drained
- Parmesan Cheese - 2 tablespoons
- Flash-fried Garnishes
- Leek - 1, cleaned, trimmed, and cut or shredded into very fine julienne
- Sage Leaves - 8
- Capers - 1/2 cup, drained
- Couscous - 2 cups, regular or instant
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Shallots - 2, sliced
- Chives - 12 to 16, minced
- Red Peppers - 1, seeded, deribbed, and diced
- Yellow peppers - 1, seeded, deribbed, and diced
To prepare the marinade: Place all ingredients in a large non-aluminum bowl and whisk together.
To prepare the octopus: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and place the octopus in the water. Boil 20 minutes. Remove with tongs or two wooden spoons and hold over the pot to drain, then place on paper towels. Let cool to room temperature.
Whisk the marinade again and add the octopus. Turn to coat with the marinade. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.
To prepare the pesto: Put the olive oil and arugula in a deep bowl and mix with a stick blender. Add the walnuts and anchovies and blend again. Finally, add the parmesan cheese and blend. Or, put all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until pureed. Add the walnuts and anchovies and puree. Add the parmesan cheese and blend.
To prepare the garnishes: Heat the oil to 370 F in a deep fryer or deep skillet or saucepan. Add the leeks, a handful at a time, and flash-fry until they float up and are crisp, 15 to 20 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon or wire lifter and drain on paper towels. Repeat until all leeks are fried; let the oil return to temperature between batches. Again let the oil return to temperature and flash-fry the sage leaves and capers to 20 to 30 seconds. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
To prepare the couscous: Cook the couscous according to package directions. When it is cooked and just cool enough to handle, add the remaining ingredients and toss with your hands, working the ingredients through the couscous. Set aside and keep warm.
To finish the octopus: Drain the octopus and place on a cutting board. Cut each tentacle away from the body. In a heavy, large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the marinade and sear the tentacles. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and turn; sear on the other side. Continue turning until all sides are browned; reduce heat to medium and cook until the tentacles are dark golden brown and cooked through.
To serve: Place a mound of couscous in the center of each serving plate. Place a tentacle on each. Drizzle with the arugula pesto. Sprinkle with fried capers. Garnish with fried leek straw and sage leaves.