This was originally supposed to read "Octopus, Shrimp Avocado Salad with Kewpie-Wasabi Dressing," but the octopus part did not happen. After reading a recent string of octopus posts on Umamimart including Tokyo JUNKtion: Corpse Candy, ¡Viva España!, Umamiventure #26: San Pedro Fish Market (LA), ReCPY: Best Octopus(sy) in NYC and Raw Octopus from Tsukiji Market I executed a complete impulse buy at the local Mexican seafood market near my house. I was especially determined to recreate the salad that Yamahomo makes in his Octopus(sy) post.
The octopus I bought was a one-pounder and I was really confident that I could handle it despite the fact that I had never prepared an octopus in my life. Boy, was I in for a surprise...
When I got home, I reread Yamahomo's post and it cleared up my memory (shabby), and I realized this was going to be much harder than I expected. I proceeded to Youtube some videos on how to prepare octopus and almost barfed a little several times (live octopus preparation in particular).
The more and more I became better acquainted with these on-screen octopi, the more I feared looking into my refrigerator to pull my little guy out of his plastic bag (even though he was long dead).
I eventually did get him out of the bag, convincing myself that life is worth living for its risks and challenges.
Even so, I was thoroughly disgusted and thought about "freezing him for later" twice.
I couldn't bear the thought of turning its head "inside out like a sock" as one online source suggested, so I decided I'd just dump him whole, into the pot with 1 cup of sake, water, half a lemon, about an inch of ginger and a wine bottle cork.
I was really trying to suspend my disgust at this point, and quickly closed the pot with its lid.
Half an hour and a really pungently stinky (if the ocean had an armpit it would probably smell like this) apartment later, I uncovered the lid and was semi-pleasantly surprised. PINK!
Pink is one of the less intimidating colors on the tonal-spectrum, so I chilled out a bit.
After cooling him down to room temperature in the liquid, I "fished" him out and placed him on my cutting board. His legs curled outward over and around his head.
One-by-one, I hacked each leg off. In fear of finding myself face-to-face with this creature, I kept the head parallel to the board. When all eight legs were chopped off, I asked my husband to throw the head out.
But to feed my terror, he stood it up and took photos of it.
At this point I had lost my appetite so thoroughly (and quite possibly forever for octopus) that I decided he will NOT be making it into tonight's salad.
I think it's the baggy eyes that made my stomach turn.
To my credit, my husband ate two legs and said they were quite good. I am just so disgusted at this point with octopus that I've placed the remaining legs in a tupperware - and I am sure that I will not be snacking on those.
And that's the prelude to the actual recipe for this week's post, Shrimp Avocado Salad with Kewpie-Wasabi Dressing.
2 avocados chopped into bite-sized pieces
10 shrimp, steamed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp kewpie mayo
1 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp salad oil
1 tsp wasabi
a pinch of sugar
This salad is heavily inspired by Yamahomo's salad, but I substituted wasabi for mustard and skipped the basil, cucumber and tomato, for a wafu touch.
The key here is to pick ripe but slightly firm avocados. I find that mexican supermarkets are excellent for this.
Additionally, buy shrimps with heads whenever possible. Anything with a head still on it is going to taste a "whole" lot better. Deveining the shrimp is a bit of a pain, but when you eat the final product, you'll appreciate the effort that pays off in both flavor and presentation.
Steam shrimp whenever possible. It will retain flavor better than boiling. I steamed my shrimp after deveining and but before removing the heads.
I took this salad to a potluck dinner and I was pleased to see it was a hit. I was also very pleased that I made the decision not to add the octopus in there.