UPDATE: After I posted this challenge, I read this article on The Guardian and decided to stop eating octopus. Find out how you can make more sustainable food choices at The New York Times.
Nombelina x Dorothy Porker Japanese loaded fry off
So for our first fry off food challenge it only makes sense that I got my inspiration from that book.
To be fair though, that’s not why I landed on this at all. Basically we were waxing lyrical about loaded fries options. And this is just one of the first things that came to mind and that I knew I had to make.
The original recipe is called Tako No Kara Age. It comes with pan-fried butternut squash instead of sweet potato fries but I figured this would work just as well. And basically yeah, it does.
You can also make the original recipe by frying some chunks of butternut squash in the oil before you fry the octopus. You’re not supposed to add Kewpie mayo to this but I highly recommend it.
Do you want to try Nombelina’s entry for this fry-off? Get her okonomi loaded fries here.
Tako no kara age inspired loaded sweet potato fries
- Large pot
- Baking sheet
- Large bowl
- Small bowl
- Tea towel
- Plastic bag
- Large frying pan or skillet, for shallow frying
For the octopus
- 4 tentacles + 2 pieces of head of prepared octopus see instructions
- 1 piece bread see instructions
- 2 T - 30 ml soy sauce
- 1 T - 15 ml sake any quality
- 1/2 clove garlic finely minced
- 1 T - 15 gr ginger grated
- 3 T - 30 gr potato flour rice flour or corn flour will also work
- neutral oil for shallow frying, I use sunflower oil
For the sweet potatoes, you can also use ready-made sweet potato fries
- 2 large sweet potatoes
- pinch ground white pepper
- pinch garlic powder
- 2 T - 30 gr corn flour
- 1 lime halved or cut into wedges
- 1 T - 15 gr Sichuan peppercorns black seeds removed
- 1 spring onion finely chopped
- Kewpie mayo to taste
Prep the octopus a day ahead of time
- To prep your octopus, make sure the inside of the head is cleaned out by your fish monger, but ask them to keep the octopus in one piece for you.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.
- Once the water is boiling, temper your octopus by dipping it into the boiling water three times, for roughly 15 seconds at a time, before submerging it fully.
- Now cook the octopus for roughly 1 hour, with a lid partially covering the pot and wedged open with a piece of bread. This will prevent your house from smelling like octopus.
- Turn off the heat and leave the octopus to cool completely in the cooking liquid.
- I like to divide my octopus into 4 portions of 2 tentacles and a piece of head each and freeze the portions I am not using for a rainy day. They should keep for up to 3 months.
To make the sweet potato fries
- Pre-heat the oven to 225°C/ 435°F and line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Wash 2 sweet potatoes and peel them if you like, before cutting them into 50x50mm - 0.2"x0.2" fries. The more evenly you cut them, the more even they will cook. So try and be tidy (or not).
- Place the fries into a bowl of cold water and let them sit there while you mix your spices.
- Mix a pinch of ground white pepper with a pinch of garlic powder and 2 T - 30 gr of corn starch. DO NOT ADD THE SALT.
- Drain and roughly dry the fries with a tea towel.
- Place the dried fries back into the dried bowl, drizzle with 2 T - 30 ml of oil and mix together so all the fries are coated evenly.
- Sprinkle your fries with a thin layer of the cornstarch/ spice mix. Make sure the fries get evenly coated.
- Place the fries on your baking sheet in a single layer. Make sure none of the fries are touching. Make sure your fries have breathing room or they won't crisp up.
- Bake your fries in the oven for 30-45 minutes. Turn the fries every 10-15 minutes until they are crisp (or crisp enough, because well really now...). Remove smaller fries if they're done cooking sooner and have a little pre-nibble if you want.
- Season your fries with salt.
Start making finishing the octopus about 30 mins before the fries are done
- Mix together 2 T - 30 ml of soy sauce and 1 T - 15 ml of sake with 1 clove of finely minced garlic and 1 T - 15 gr of ginger.
- Cut 4 octopus tentacles into smaller sections and marinade the sections with 2 pieces of the head in the soy-sake mixture for 15 minutes or so before taking it out and dabbing it as dry as you can.
- Now lightly coat the octopus pieces in 3 T - 45 gr of potato starch, this is most easily accomplished by placing the octopus in a small plastic bag with the starch and shaking it.
- Shallow fry in neutral oil until gold and crisp. Remember you've already cooked the octopus so you just need to crisp it up now.
- To make your loaded fries, place the sweet potato fries on a plate or what have you. Top with the fried pieces of octopus.
- Now sprinkle with Sichuan pepper and spring onion and serve with the bottle of Kewpie mayo (I said it) and wedges of lime to squeeze over the loaded fries to really make all the flavors pop.