I’ll find any reason to celebrate. Half-birthdays? Of course. Montheversaries? Without a doubt. Cat birthdays? They rage (Sprinkles’ 9th I’m looking at you). So it would be of no surprise that my boyfriend and I had to celebrate the one year anniversary of our first date (or rather, it should be no surprise that I made him).
The date also coincidentally fell a few days prior to Valentine’s Day, which we wouldn’t have been able to celebrate that day because of his schedule. So this joint celebration had to be something for the books. Without even realizing it, we both decided upon Surf-n-Turf, because what’s more boojie than that? Especially since we were going to be saving mad money by eating in, we figured we could splurge a bit with the ingredients.
First step was making the pasta dough. For details on how I made this, check out my previous post. If you’re too lazy to make your own pasta or just don’t give a fuck, use whatever store bought version you want – I don’t care.
While I was letting my pasta dough rest, I set out some appetizers because I knew Stephen was getting hungry by that point. We had a French Brie cheese (room temperature always), smoked sardines, smoked oysters, and a caviar/smoked salmon spread.
Not even joking, I’ve turned my boyfriend into a charcuterie snob. You’re welcome world.
As for the two seafood options we chose at the fish market, they were baby octopus and squid. Being that I don’t cook either seafood frequently enough, I wasn’t sure if one would be better alone or with the pasta. We chose to do the squid with the pasta, and the baby octopus separately. In this scenario, I’d say it was a good choice, as the octopus flavors were so strong on their own they didn’t need to be mixed with anything. However, if you were only doing just the octopus, I’d highly recommend to throw it together with the pasta.
Baby octopus is now my new favorite food. The texture is similar to that of juicy dark meat chicken, the flavors were sweet yet salty, and the smell of it mixed with chopped garlic was beyond this world.
As for the squid, I sliced them into ringlets (probably would do them thicker next time), and pan seared them in the same pot I cooked the pasta. I wanted just enough high heat to sear them lightly, then I lowered it and added chopped garlic. To deglaze the pan, I didn’t have any wine so I went the hillbilly route and used a Bud Light I found in the fridge. Hey, it worked out – the effervescence mixed with the fond to give a viscous but not too overwhelming sauce.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the most versed person with steak. What type of cut to use? I have no idea. How long per side? Maybe till it’s darkish? I don’t know – so I let my honey handle that part. I did however light up the cast iron skillet on high for him and let him do the rest.
Nothing necessarily involved recipes so I’ll just list the below for your references-
Grilled Baby Octopus
- 1 lb of baby octopus, or adjust for what you can get
- Olive oil
- Fresh cracked pepper
- Cornstarch (if needed, see below)
- Remove head from tentacles, if not done already. Make sure the whole beak and any cartilage is thrown away.
- Wait until heat is on high with oil in a frying pan, and throw the octopus in. Best part is watching the tentacles curl up into a ball once the heat hits it. Definitely videotape it and send it to your squeamishest friends.
- You should notice that the octopus starts to turn a deep purple once it’s been cooked enough. This is your sign to flip the body. It’ll be a little difficult to keep flipping the tentacles, since they’re more rounded, but just keep moving it around.
- Definitely do not overcook! These are baby octopus, and don’t require the time and effort adult octopus need to cook.
- Throw in some chopped garlic once you’re getting close. Don’t be afraid to pull off a tentacle and taste the tenderness to see if it’s ready.
- For me, my octopus secreted a lot of juices. Not sure if it’s the case for everyone, but I had no problem throwing in a few sprinkles of cornstarch to sop it all up. Continue to cook until ready.
amount: What we made was perfect for a side for 2 people. We had leftovers with this.
- Homemade pasta recipe found here (or can substitute with a hearty pasta of your choice)
- 1 lb cleaned Squid, cut into ringlets (about half inch or more thick)
- Olive oil
- Fresh cracked pepper
- A mug full of pasta water before draining
- A few tb of cream cheese
- Bud light (or light white wine), if you want
- Boil the pasta and set aside in a strainer.
- In the same pot, turn heat on medium high with oil. When hot, add the cut squid to the pan. Sear each side, but don’t overcook. The fond (dark bits) should be sticking to the pot by then. Add the garlic (and more oil, if needed), and stir.
- Deglaze the pot with light white wine (or a light beer like I did here as I didn’t have any wine open) – about a cup or so, depending. The fond should be picking up and the liquid starting to reduce.
- I added a little creamncheese (about 2 or 3 tablespoons) just to add some thickness to the sauce, but this is optional.
- Toss the pasta in the sauce, and add more wine/beer if needed. I ended up using an entire can of beer for this. If more liquid needs to be added, I always keep a mug of pasta water prior to draining to help, as the starchy water is a good binder.
- Add seasonings of your choice – I used fresh cracked pepper (no salt in my house), garlic powder, and chopped parsley.
- When serving, try to add the squid and tentacles to the top for aesthetics.
I’d say there was about 6 servings total in the pot.