Best Octopus Confit | Best of Chicago 2010 | Food & Drink | Chicago Reader

Best Octopus Confit

Critics' Picks


123 N. Jefferson

Andrew Zimmerman at Sepia does a knockout octopus confit, served with salty-sweet black-olive honey, pleasantly acidic preserved lemon, and perky mint salsa verde over a bed of fried chickpeas dusted with smoked paprika. The Mediterranean octopuses he favors (“Asian varieties are too small,” he says) spend some time in a marinade of aromatics, including cumin, coriander, fennel seed, crushed red chili, and garlic. This may seem like a heavy flavor cargo for the delicate sea creature to carry, but as Zimmerman explains, moderate use of these spices provides “nuance and subtle interest while still allowing you to taste the octopus.” Cooking them sous-vide in a vacuum-sealed bag encourages the seasoned liquid to penetrate the flesh and ensures the octopus won’t be tough. Finished on an open fire that transforms the tiny suckers into caramelized nubs, this deceptively simple-looking dish has a lot going on beneath the surface.

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