There’s no consensus on how to prepare octopus. The Greeks beat it against a building. The Japanese eat it raw. Some people don’t know what to do and end up with a chewy, tasteless result.
Aaron Knoll is head chef at Little Mermaid, a tiny restaurant on the Homer Spit that has gotten big reviews. Born landlocked in Minnesota, Aaron cooked his way to Alaska. He is now an expert in using local seafood to creative, beautiful, and delicious ends.
At Little Mermaid, you can find dishes like scallops served with savory ice cream, poke watermelon, oysters on the half shell with red wine vinegar “caviar,” and whole fried rockfish.
To tenderize the octopus, Aaron goes low and slow, simmering the cleaned carcass in aromatic salt water (about the same salinity as sea water, he explained — a couple of tablespoons salt per gallon) for four hours. He leaves the octopus to brine overnight, rinses, and then removes the skin and suckers.
From there, the octopus can be prepared an infinite number of ways: grilled, combined with raw shrimp and lime to make ceviche, or — in one of Aaron’s favorites — poke-style, with sesame oil, sriracha, green onion, and wasabi.