MARSEILLE, March 19 — If you are what you eat, then it could be said that chefs are what they cook. In an exclusive series from Relaxnews, some of the top chefs from around the world share their favorite food ingredient to prepare and eat, every week.
Whether it be lemons, apricots, or sea urchin, the answers are as varied as the chefs themselves.
This week, Gérald Passédat, head chef of Le Petit Nice in Marseille, France, shares his passion for cooking octopus.
Relaxnews: Why did you choose this ingredient?
Gérald Passédat: Octopus is a popular product in that it can have a wide scope of appeal. Its flesh is tender and briny and it sticks slightly in the mouth. This mollusk has the potential for a broad range of tastes: it can be subtle and intense when served hot and more adaptable when served cold.
R: What's your favorite memory or anecdote associated with the product?
GP: I remember going fishing as a child and bringing back octopus as a trophy. My grandmother, Lucie Passédat, would cook it in broth and we would all eat it together as a family.
R: When is the ingredient in season?
GP: The best time for eating it [in France] is from June to the end of August.
R: What's the best way to prepare or cook it?
GP: It should be cooked in a stock on a low heat at length and then peeled. It can then be eaten in a traditional stew or in a salad.
R: What other foods and ingredients does it pair best with?
GP: It can be eaten in a salad with mango, lemon and ginger shavings. The unctuous texture of the octopus goes well with the tartness of the lemon and ginger. The mango gives the salad body.
R: What are the most common mistakes people make when cooking/preparing this ingredient??
GP: It should not be undercooked. A 3 kg octopus should be cooked on a low heat for about 3 hours.
R: Do you serve it in your restaurant and in what dish?
GP: At Le Petit Nice, I serve slowly cooked octopus teppanyaki with beef juice. The lightly caramelised beef juice perfectly balances the octopus. Its texture resembles that of veal.
R: What wine or alcohol goes best with this ingredient?
GP: The dish we serve at Le Petit Nice goes well with a Clarendon from the Domaine Gavoty in Côte de Provence. The mango and octopus salad works best with a Genêts du Château Roquefort from Roquefort la Bédoule. – AFP-Relaxnews