The Unvegan

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Strange Meats: Octopus

Just your normal buffet...
Just your normal buffet…

In honor of the Detroit Red Wings being in the playoffs and beating the Anaheim (Mighty) Ducks last night, I decided today would be a great opportunity to highlight the consumption of octopus. (For more information on why that is a reason to highlight octopus, please click here).

My first octopus-eating experience came while I was living in Japan. I attended an event that had a typical array of buffet-like foods, when I suddenly came across bowls of tentacles. One of the bowls had boiled octopus, while the other was fried. Taking a bit of each, I sat down to eat that eight-armed wonder of the sea.

First I tried the boiled version, which tasted somewhere between a bike tire and an IV tube. I was actually expecting the suckers to stick to my tongue, as I had imagined octopus to do in my childhood. Then, I took a bite out of a deep-fried tentacle and was more pleasantly surprised. It was still a bit rubbery, but I was confident that I could bite through it. As far as flavor went, I found my first octopi to be pretty bland, but it didn’t stop me from trying it out more.

Since that first taste, I’ve tried out a couple different forms of Octopus. My least favorite was Octopus sushi, which took me about a half hour to swallow because of how incredibly chewy it is. My favorite, though, was called Takoyaki (in Japanese, tak0 means octopus and yaki means fried). In English, I like to call these octopus balls, as they are essentially balls of dough with octopus bits cooked into them. On a breezy autumn day, these octopus balls can be the perfect snack.

In all, I wouldn’t put octopus in my regular food rotation, especially if it is boiled or sushi, but for special occasions it can make a decent fried addition to a meal or snack.