Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert is a master at weaving together unexpected ingredients, like this tender cooked octopus with a sauce of salty fermented black beans and sweet pear. Finding a wine pairing for such a complex dish, however, is a challenge. “It needs a very aromatic wine, just to stand up to all the flavors,” says wine director Aldo Sohm.
I used a fresh baby octopus that was available at the Asian Market in my local area. Cooking the octopus by this method ensure a very tender protein.
Given the amount of salt in the various components of this dish, I omitted the squid ink. I also added a pinch of brown sugar just give a little more sweetness to the dish and to balance out the acidity of the lemon juice and the balsamic vinegar.
For the Octopus
6 garlic cloves, halved
2 parsley sprigs
One 2-ounce piece of prosciutto
1 teaspoon salt
4 octopus tentacles (about 2 pounds total)
For the Black Bean–Pear Sauce:
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons Chinese fermented black beans, rinsed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 small shallot, minced
1 tablespoon finely diced red bell pepper
1 tablespoon finely diced jalapeño
1/2 small Bartlett pear, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced chives
For the Miso Vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon white miso
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon squid ink (optional)
2 tablespoons water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons hot paprika
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
16 baby arugula leaves
1 small Anjou pear, cut into very thin wedges
In a large, deep skillet, combine 2 quarts of water with the onion, garlic, parsley, prosciutto and salt. Cover, bring to a boil and simmer over moderate heat for 5 minutes. Add the octopus to the broth, cover partially and simmer over low heat until tender, about 1 hour; drain and pat dry.
In a small skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the black beans and cook over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and shallot and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the red bell pepper and jalapeño and cook until starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in the pear and remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon juice and chives.
In a small bowl, whisk the miso with the balsamic vinegar, oil, squid ink and 2 tablespoons of water. Season with salt and pepper.
In a bowl, mix the olive oil with the paprika and rub it all over the cooked octopus; season with salt. In a skillet, heat the vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the octopus and cook over high heat until browned all over, about 6 minutes. Transfer the octopus to a carving board and slice it crosswise 1/3 inch thick.
Spread the vinaigrette on 4 plates and top with the octopus. Spoon the black bean–pear sauce over the octopus. Garnish with the arugula and pear wedges and serve.
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