JP: An Interview with Stephen ‘Octoman’ Fried.
Recently during a charity event for the Center for Hearing and Communication in a private home, I (chef Jeff Purrazzi) became a believer of the Octoman gospel. The man is as stand up a guy as you could ask for in a chef: honest, passionate, and full of personality. The products he had on display, Spanish octopus and sepia (like cuttlefish or squid), were outstanding. His spin on grilled Spanish Octopus over cauliflower purée -and the grilled sepia salad with yuzu dressing had me convinced I needed to interview him for the blog and get him to join our chef collection!
JP: Famous for your namesake, Octopus, is quite a niche market. We’re always intrigued by someone who gets an idea and blows it up! How did you become the octoman?
OM: You know what man I fell into or should I say in love with it. I was already an importer fine vinegars and olive oils, so when I met Frank Gullo and tried his products, I mean not all at once -but the octoman you could say was born!
JP: Who came up with the special way your company tenderises and brines the octopus you import?
OM: Frank Gullo the owner of the company innovated a very old technique of beating it with sea salt and a stick, now we use sea salt, ice water, and stainless steel drums to tumble the octopus to perfection. After our Octopus is brined it requires half the cooking time and has a much higher yield than conventional packaged as the brining method helps the octopus retain moisture when cooking. This makes cooking Gullo Spanish Octopus practically a no brainer…
JP: What else do you Import and from where?
OM: Octopus and Sepia from Spain, Squid from Rhode Island, and amazing finishing vinegars from Modena, Italy.
JP: There are a lot of different recipes and techniques to cook octopus, would you say there are any NO NO’s when cooking octopus?
OM: Well definitely don’t overcook it! The skin comes off and it loses its amazing texture… That’s why we say our octo is a no brainer as it requires half the cook time and now we even offer legs that have been pre cooked, vacuum sealed, frozen and and once thawed, which takes 15-20mins in the fridge, are ready for the grill!
JP: I know Octopus is cooked universally and you’ve done events all over the country. Can you tell me about one of your most interesting events?
OM: Heritage Fire in Snowmass, CO -put on by the people at Cochon 555. I did it last year and they asked me back again this year. Its 40 chefs all cooking whole heritage animals. I was in the seafood squad where we slow smoked and roasted a 12# octopus.
JP: Where do we go to purchase your octopus?
OM: We are now in the 200 wholefoods Boston – NJ/ Northern California/ Rocky Mountain regions, or contact me through Gulloseafood.com and if you meet delivery requirements we’ll deliver to you.
JP: How can we get you to work an event or a party in the Hamptons or anywhere your services are needed? At least until you join the chef collection….
OM: Email or Call Stephen “Octoman” Fried
VP, Business Development
Gullo Specialty Foods
Tel: (917) 655-0908
Off: (516) 938-0243
JP: Can you share your favorite recipe for octopus with us? Maybe this amazing grilled octopus that you made tonight….
OM: Of course, we have here my smoked paprika, marinated grilled octopus, served over a simple creamy cauliflower purée topped with a nice fresh salsa verde.
Boil a 4lb octopus for around 30 mins, then cool in marinate until needed.
The marinatde for the octopus:
1 T smoked paprika
2 T red wine vinegar
3 T evo
A pinch of your favorite chilli flake or powder works wonders.
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and reserve until needed. Marinate octo legs.
The cauliflower purée:
2 heads of cauliflower
Salt and pepper
1 cup / ½ &½ or heavy cream (optional).
Steam cauliflower tender.
Add to a food processor in batches, blend until all ingredients are smooth.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Hold warm in pot on stove.
2 bunches parsley picked and cleaned.
I bunch cilantro picked and cleaned.
3T red wine vinegar.
1 cup of evo.
In a blender purée all ingredients until smooth.
To assemble dish:
Put two spoonfuls of cauliflower purée on the plate, on top put the charred octo legs and drizzle some marinate over them. Finally, hit the top with a bit of the salsa verde and enjoy!