Nightmare in a tin can

2 11 2010

When I was a kid, I used to have nightmares about a giant octopus attacking me with its tentacles. The thought of those gargantuan suction cups still gives me chills to this day.

I never thought I’d eat an octopus out of a tin, but today, I did.

Preserved, rubbery, dead invertebrate? Oh, yes, please!

… Not.

I know octopus is a delicacy for some people — or a lot of people, actually. In Hawaii, especially, octopus is a common dish. In fact, my dad tried an octopus in Hawaii once. He said it tasted like chicken. Of course.

When I saw a can of octopus, my gag reflex instinctively kicked into gear. No way, I thought. Absolutely no way.

I bought it.  Go figure.

When I think of canned meat, I think of Spam. When I think of octopus, I think of the stuff of nightmares. Spam + nightmares = not something I want to eat.

The package said it was a product of Thailand — a Thai octopus, if you will.  I guess Thailand didn’t want it. I wouldn’t blame them.

As I slowly peeled open the can, all I could think of was tentacles. Giant suction cups. Nightmares. I was about to eat this:

© Hellen Fordham,

… out of a can. I admit I was slightly terrified.

When the tin was open, the smell — one that can only be described as a pungent mixture of seafood and formaldehyde — permeated the room.  I took a close look at the tin’s contents and died a little inside.

Gingerly, I picked up a piece with a fork, trying to ignore the black remnants of what I can only assume was octopus skin (or maybe suction cups) clinging to it.  I closed my eyes and put it in my mouth …

And …

It was good.  And not just “Well, not bad” … but good.

The first words out of my mouth were, “It tastes like a pig and a fish had a baby!” Clearly I’m an eloquent person. But it was true — if someone found a way to mix ham with fish, they’d get something along the lines of smoked, salted octopus.

I still don’t know for sure what the black stuff on it was, nor what it was floating around in. (Apparently it was soybean oil, but I’m suspicious.) I’m kind of beyond caring, though. It was too delicious for me to care.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit this part, but immediately after trying a piece, I grabbed a slice of pizza and plopped some meat on top of it. Octopus pizza, yes. I lead such an adventurous life, I know. But honestly, it tasted great — like ham pizza, only saltier and … fishier. I think it just might have potential.

The only downside is that the aftertaste (and after-smell) are as poignant as the smell was when I originally opened the tin. I can still taste it, even after pizza and juice. My hands still smell like whatever the meat was soaking in. Essentially, I smell like my nightmares.

But you know what? Some nightmares taste good. Especially on pizza.


Ingredients: None listed except “smoked, sliced octopus in soybean oil, salt added.”
$4.47 at AJ’s
Pros: Surprisingly delicious, especially on pizza.
Cons: Strong (and not-so-delicious) smell and aftertaste.




6 responses

3 11 2010

I believe you when you say it tastes good but I don’t know if I could get over how it looks. The pictures alone made me feel a little weak in the stomach and will eat just about anything.

What gave you the idea to put it on pizza?

4 11 2010
Julia Tylor

Oh trust me, it took me awhile to build up the courage to actually put a piece in my mouth. But it tastes a lot better than it looks.

The pizza thing was a happy coincidence – we had ordered pizza for dinner and it was sitting on the counter, and I saw it and thought, “I wonder…” So I took a piece of cheese pizza and added some octopus to it, and that was that.

6 11 2010

I knew you would get around to octopus eventually. I was also surprised by just how much I liked it. I’ve actually bought and consumed more since. Give the vigo brand a shot if you can find it, I didn’t get much of an aftertaste/smell with it.

6 11 2010
Julia Tylor

Thanks for the suggestion! I’ll have to try to find that. It’s shocking how good the stuff tastes compared to the way it looks.

15 12 2010

Oh yummy, I adore octopus (well cooked – I hate it sushi style)… I bet I would love this!

20 12 2010
Julia Tylor

I once passed up an opportunity to eat octopus sushi … I won’t ever rule it out entirely, but I don’t think I’d like it. This was definitely delicious, though. And I’m sure fresh cooked octopus is ten times better.

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