Octopus, a Greek Staple
My Nice Little Lunch
Greek Dinner of Octopus, Mussels, Greek Yogurt with Dill and Pita Chips
Oh, and Fried Calamari and Conch Fritters
Welcome to our Beneath the 12-Mile Reef Dinner
This is our homage to the movie that was filmed in Tarpon Springs, Florida in 1953 about the Greek Sponge Diving Industry. The movie starred a very young and handsome Robert Wagner.This is also our homage to beautiful Tarpon Springs, we have fallen in love with the area.
Here are some sponges that we bought in Tarpon Springs. Some of them are quite expensive.
Brodie digging into some canned octopus. Also we picked up some baby octopus from our favorite sushi chefs.
This is actually pretty good!
The Canned Octopus that we Bought in Tarpon Springs
Cocktails and Appetizers
(See Julie’s Octopussy Cocktail post)
Delicious roasted Greek olives speared with my homemade picks. I bought some wooden craft beads and used colored markers to make them blue and yellow, then I placed them onto some wooden bamboo skewers.
(Check out our roasted olives post for the recipe.)
Dill dip with pita chips. I used mini boat paddles as the spoons.
This recipe just came from a prepackaged dip that we did buy in Tarpon Springs. But instead of the usual sour cream and mayo we just added Greek yogurt and some of our own fresh dill along with some lemon pepper. It was delicious AND healthy.
The elongated glass float is an octopus float.
Perfect Dinner and Appetizers with our Octopussy Cocktails
Gordon Enjoying the Fruits of His Labors
Calamari with Conch Fritters, Lemon, and a Dipping Sauce
Gordon’s Greek Mussels
Gordon’s Greek Mussels Recipe
2 Dozen Mussels (I prefer ones from New Zealand)
4 Tbsp butter
1/2 Cup white wine (Chardonnay)
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
4-5 Shallots sliced thinly then chopped fine
4 Garlic Cloves chopped fine
2 to 3 Green Onions sliced thinly
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 Lemon juiced
Notice the finger sponge in the background picture which we bought from Tarpon Springs.
In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and add the olive oil. Cook your chopped shallots until translucent then add your chopped garlic. Cook for about 3 min. then add your mussels. Now add your wine, salt and pepper to taste and cover your mussels tightly for about 7 to 10 Min. Remove your cooked mussels and reduce the onion and garlic mixture until slightly thick… about 5 min. Now, add juice from half a lemon and add the sliced green onions.
Lastly, spoon the mixture over your mussels and enjoy!
Hint: Wedges of lemon and lime make a nice garnish and to add more flavor to the dish if wanted by the guests.
Preparing and Cooking Calamari (Squid)
2 lb. Package Thawed Whole Squid (cleaned) explained below
Vegetable Oil for frying
1/4 Cup Corn Meal
1 Cup Flour
2 Tbsp Corn Starch
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Cup Greek Yogurt
2 Tbsp Sriracha Chili Sauce
1 Tbsp Ground Horse Radish
1 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Finely Chopped Garlic
Mix all the above ingredients together in a bowl, adjust the mixture to your taste, and place in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
To Clean the Squid or Calamari (Cuttlefish):
Pull the head away from the body and save the head for later as you can eat the tentacles and ink sac if wanted in a rice or risotto dish.
Remove the plastic looking cartilage or cuttlebone hence the name of the cuttlefish.
Using running water clean out the inside of the squid and remove the outer spotted skin membrane from the squids body.
Below is what you should end up with.
Slice the squid body into 1/2 inch slices and pat dry or place on paper towel.
In a bowl, mix your corn meal, flour, corn starch, salt and pepper then place a few squid rings at a time in the mixture to coat or dredge them evenly and remove excess. Doing all of them ahead of time will help later to quickly get another batch frying.
Frying the Calamari
Pour enough oil in a pot to be able to just cover the calamari rings and heat the oil to medium heat. If your oil smokes it is way too hot. The oil should be at 350’F for best results. You can test the oil’s temperature by placing one ring in the oil which should come to a gentle boil. When the oil is at the correct temperature, place about 10 calamari rings in the oil. If you place too many rings in during this step, the oil’s temperature will drop down too much and the cooking of the calamari will become uneven and not work correctly. The rings should only take just around two minutes in the oil to cook properly. When done, they will look white and the coating slightly browned. If you cook them much more, they will become chewy or rubbery. Using a slotted spoon, remove the calamari rings and place on paper towels to drain. Immediately salt and pepper them to taste as the wet oil will hold onto the seasonings.
Dip the rings in the above dipping sauce and enjoy.
Garnish the rings with lemon wedges.
Frying the Conch Fritters
Fry the conch fritters at the same temperature as the calamari, but just for a longer time period as they need to be more golden brown. The package directions say to fry them from a frozen state, so cut one or two open to ensure the fritters are full cooked all the way inside. Once cooked, place them on paper towels to drain and salt and pepper to taste.
Use the same dipping sauce as the calamari.
We bought the conch fritters already frozen at the seafood shop in Tarpon Springs.
A great place to buy your seafood. They literally have everything!
Eel and Frogs Legs
( I have never eaten eel but I have eaten frogs legs. They taste just like chicken.)
You can also buy squid rings already prepared for you.
Talk about foot in mouth???
Our Delicious Calamari and Conch Fritters Ready to Devour
Just add a few lemons and limes and a spicy dipping sauce.
How To Cook Octopus
Gordon’s Greek Octopus Recipe
1 Octopus 4 1/2 to 5 lbs
1 Cup extra virgin olive oil
8 garlic cloves chopped
2 zest of the lemons and squeezed
1 bunch of lemon thyme chopped
1 bunch Greek oregano
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a suitable sized container, place all the above ingredients together mixing well.
Cover with lid and place in the refrigerator overnight. Doing this tenderizes the octopus otherwise you can cook the octopus in very hot water (NOT BOILING) with some lemon, garlic, salt, and bay leaves for about 1:30 to 2 hours until fork tender. Once cooked place in marinade of above ingredients and chill in refrig.
For a smoked taste, place wood chips in water for about an hour then place in an aluminum foil pouch.
Poke holes in the pouch and place in your hot grill.
Here we have the wood chip pouch along with some lemons we will also grill.
Grill your octopus for about 5 min. per side.
Cut off the head and tentacles to bite size pieces and enjoy!
Julie and Gordon
To learn more about Tarpon Springs, Florida, click below: