Improved Octopus Carpaccio using Transglutaminase

Octopus cooked sous-vide is very flavorful and tender, and sliced thinly as carpaccio is a great way of serving it. Last year I prepared octopus carpaccio, but the slices fell apart. I tried adding gelatin and that didn’t help. Then I decided next time I would try to use a ‘meat glue’ enzyme called transglutaminase. I didn’t get around to doing that, and then I forgot about it until the succesful experiment I performed with Activa and duck breast. I prepared it exactly the same way, except that I added 2% transglutaminase by weight. And guess what? It worked! Perfect slices that didn’t fall apart.
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When you prepare this, I recommend you to serve it with parsley, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and perhaps some cubes vine tomatoes.

Ingredients

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For 6 servings as an appetizer

1.8 kilograms (4 lbs) octopus, cleaned

2 bay leaves, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

6 juniper berries

6 black pepper corns

salt

18 grams Activa RM or Activa EB (2% of the cooked octopus by weight)

Preparation

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Cut the tentacles off the octopus, but leave them whole. Vacuum seal the octopus with the bay leaves, carrot, onion, celery stalks, juniper berries, black pepper corns, and salt.

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Cook sous-vide for 3 hours at 82ºC/180ºF.

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Drain the octopus and discard the aromatics. I checked the weight. Octopus loses a lot of liquid when it’s cooked, less than half of the original weight is left.

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Calculate 2% of the weight of the cooked octopus and add that amount of transglutaminase.

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Toss the octopus with the transglutaminase until it is coated on all sides. (Make sure to clean your hands and anything else that was touched by the Activa quickly, as it is very sticky stuff indeed.)

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Take a plastic water bottle (still water, not carbonated) and cut off the top. The bottle needs to be at least 1 litre/1 quart. Arrange the octopus in the bottle. The tentacles should be arranged as vertically as possible to get nice slices later.

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Press down on the octopus with an appropriate object — I used a bottle of olive oil that I cleaned first.

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Make incisions in the plastic bottle above the octopus, about 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) apart. Cut off the top of the bottle such that the strips of plastic that are sticking out are about the same length as the diameter of the bottle.

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Fold the strips towards the center to close the bottle, and wrap with plastic wrap. Allow to firm up in the refrigerator with a heavy object on top for at least 4 hours.

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Cut away most of the bottle after those 4 hours. (Leaving the bottom of the bottle makes for a nice hold.)

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Slice the octopus ‘sausage’ thinly.

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Serve at room temperature or slightly cooler with parsley, lemon, extra virgin olive oil. You could also add garlic and/or cubed tomatoes.

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22 thoughts on “Improved Octopus Carpaccio using Transglutaminase

  1. To paraphrase the corporate slogan of one of are larger chemical companies, “Better eating through chemistry” 🙂
    This sure is an interesting way of preparing octopus, Stefan, and I give you credit for coming up with this solution to your prior problem. Very creative of you.

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  2. Hi Stefan. I’ve only just started reading but I’m loving your blog so far. I’m going to wind my way back through the archives.

    Transglutaminaise – the only place I’ve found is a seller on Amazon, and its almost £100 for a kilo bag (which is quite a lot both in weight and money). I was just wondering if anyone has found a cheaper/smaller supllier for it.

    Really creative use for it though, and it looks beautiful.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and liking my blog 🙂
      I bought my kilo bag for 75 euros, so 100 quid is expensive. I saw a 100 grams bag for 40 euros somewhere (making it 400 per kilo, nice profit margin) so I’d recommend getting a kilo and finding someone to share it with.

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  3. Stefan, I saw this post when it was first posted but somehow never commented. Mea culpa. It’s a lovely post and one I need to try.
    This post reminded Baby Lady & I of our dining experience at Felidia, Lidia Bastianich’s flagship restaurant in NYC. There is a wonderful story on this adventure we need to tell you next time we get together. It’s quite funny. Nonetheless, we had the tasting menu and one of the dishes was a grilled octopus with fresh caught octopus, perfectly grilled placed atop a mosaic of octopus legs sliced prosciutto thin much like your carpaccio. It was a memorable meal and a true work of art. It’s also Baby Lady’s favorite meal of all the places we have ever eaten bar none.

    Liked by 1 person

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