During my weekend roadtrip to Louisville, we had an amazing dinner at one of my new favorite restaurants. Proof on Main. My favorite dish was a Charred Octopus appetizer...so of course, I tried to recreate the dish when I got home.
I used calamari instead of octopus, which is similar but with a less chewy consistency - both work well for this dish. The charred-ness is a central component of this dish - make sure you get the meat nice and crispy and browned on the outside. This, combined with the fresh lime, is a summery, delicious combo!
The base of the dish is a little anchovy paste, which is possibly my new favorite ingredient. Anchovies are secretly used in many of your favorite foods: Caesar dressing, pizza sauce, meat rubs, etc. Though you can't exactly taste the anchovies, chefs often add it to their dishes as they are a primary source of umami.
What is umami, you ask? It is the fifth taste sensation we experience in addition to the primary four - sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Foods high in umami bring a savory richness and depth to dishes that is hard to define. Common umami foods include anchovies, fish sauce, fresh tomatoes, soy sauce, aged cheese, and fresh clams.
Moral of the story? Just try it! You're definitely already eating it - you just may not know quite where.
So...fry up some anchovy paste, give the calamari or octopus a good charring, throw in more garlic than you can imagine, and sprinkle with cilantro and lots of fresh lime juice. Serve with grilled bread and you're all set!
1 lb calamari or octopus, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
20 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon oregano
1 handful cilantro, chopped
Grilled bread, sliced
Salt to taste
1. Heat skillet to medium high and add a few swirls of olive oil. Once hot, add in anchovy paste and garlic and fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
2. Add in calamari and oregano and turn heat up to high. Fry until well browned. Stir well and watch the calamari - you want to get a nice, crispy charred exterior, but not burnt all over.
3. Turn heat off and mix in cilantro and fresh squeezed lime. Add salt to taste. Serve with grilled bread and enjoy!
Wanna know a secret?
When using fresh lemons and limes, pop 'em in the microwave for about 10 seconds. It'll loosen up the fruit, making it easier to squeeze, thus maximizing that good citrus juice!
P.S. How pretty is that plate? Yes, it's another thrift store find - you know it! If you're not a thrifter, start! Then tell me what goodies you found!