Friday, November 6, 2009

Sea creatures, cooking and sex



It's a beautiful Friday here. I'm glad that it's almost the weekend. This afternoon I'm going to give a talk on one of my favorite critters, the horseshoe crab. Sharing information on marine organisms is something that I look forward to. If I can impart some information that will help people to consider the estuaries and oceans in a different way, as a home to some interesting and important creatures, then I consider that a success.

The horseshoe crab, a humble prehistoric looking critter, has been around since the Ordovician period, which was about 500 million years ago. That's a long time. What's really intriguing is that the blood of horseshoe crab is used by the biomedical industry to detect bacterial endotoxins in catheter tubes and injectable drugs. So this ancient creature provides a very real and valuable service for many people.

I had to laugh about Mary's cooking experience with octopus. I've read of many methods to tenderize the rubbery cephalopod. If you ask five different people what these measures are you are likely to get five different answers, all arcane - which goes a long way toward explaining why no one cooks octopus at home. A Greek cook may tell you to beat it against some rocks. A Spanish cook will dip it into boiling water three times, then cook it in a copper pot - only copper will do. An Italian might cook it with two corks. The Japanese rub it all over with salt, or knead it with grated daikon, then slice the meat at different angles, with varying strokes. I have used a wooden mallet to beat the rubber out of the octopus.

But I read up after Mary's adventure to find that the best method which is often the simplest (Occam's rasor) is to cook octopus and squid slowly. Cook for under five minutes or so for salad or sushi. For deep frying, it would be best to do long, slow cooking to get a tender texture. I read in one book that 30 minutes per kilo (two pounds) is a gauge. But much will depend on repeatedly testing the skin with a sharp knife. When the knife blade splits the skin with little resistance, then the octopus is done.

And if all that isn't gross enough, when eating calimari look for the long tentacle that extends beyond the others. That is the hectocotylized arm of the male. He uses that to place a sperm packet in the female and thereby inseminates her.

Bon appetit.

24 comments:

  1. Lordy, Syd - - - I dunno whether to gag or keep laughing! I had heard that spiders do something sexually, but sea critters? ? ? Very interesting - - - and very yucky!

    And, then, I must admit that my Louisiana Cajun background remembers fondly the crawfish boils in my parents' back yard - - Guess edible stuff happens everywhere.

    Hugs,
    Anonymous #1

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  2. This was a real interesting post. Now if I could just get past that visual of the hectocotylized arm of the male... :D
    Happy Friday!

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  3. I use to love calimari..this is a case where ignorance is bliss.. :-D

    Namaste

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  4. Bon appetite indeed !! You've managed to put into words why I don't eat some of the squiggly things from the ocean...although I love shrimp and have a friend who says they are nothing but small garbage cans at the bottom of the ocean!

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  5. Good to know, but even boiling hot dogs is too complicated for me. I'll stick to eating calimari, which I love, at restaurants.

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  6. Thanks for sharing Syd! I cannot wait to have calamari again and search for the longest one! Enjoy your weekend!

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  7. OMG Syd, this is brilliant! Thanks for the lesson and the laugh! Learning for me does not happen without laughter :-)


    I love the horeshoe crab they are amazing...truly amazing creatures, really all sea creatures are amazing to me!

    Have a great weekend! Bon Apetit~

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  8. Hmmmmm, I think I just lost my appetite... thanks, Syd! :0

    On the other hand, maybe I'll just have a bowl of oatmeal.

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  9. and we eat that part? i am willing to try something as long as it is cooked to a crisp!!
    funny stuff, i was listening to the song 'i'm alive' by kenny chesney and dave matthews. the part dave matthews sings reminds me of you. great post.

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  10. I suppose it's a good thing I don't like or appreciate the taste of Calamari. Thanks for the interesting subject matter, it was enjoyable. (Hugs)Indigo

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  11. very cool about the horseshoe crab. and very gross about the hectocotylized arm of the male- yuck! you learn something new everyday

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  12. I'm into abalone myself, a rubbery delicacy that is simply whacked multiple times with a meat tenderizing hammer, battered and fried and melting in my mouth. Abalone are hard to come by here on the Pacific coast and it costs a fortune when you find it, but I'll take that over calamari anytime since reading your post.

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  13. Give me a good old fashioned Door County (WI) Fish Boil.

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  14. You Rock Mister, er, excuse me, Doctor.

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  15. Delish.

    -invisigal

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  16. hmm I think I'll just have the grilled cheese :-)

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  17. I can eat Calamari, and one thinks because I was born on the ocean I eat any kind of fish.. NOT true.. lol

    Give me fresh caught Cod, Halibut, and rainbow trout anytime. Shell fish YUK.. Funny post lol

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  18. Ye Gods man!! When I saw the title I though, boy he's gone straight in to the deep end. I'm really glad things are starting to work out , with your freind situation. Me I always put people up there, with my expectations and all. Forgetting to put my trust in my higher power.

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  19. BLEH! I knew I didn't like the texture of octopus already.

    Now I can't get that ick-factor out of my head. I was going to make a tuna sandwich for lunch, but I don't know if I'll be able to manage it now.

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  20. Maybe it would be best to just look thru the pantry and find something else to eat.

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  21. Oh barf. I love calimari. Maybe I should say I DID love calamari. At Olive Garden they cover the tentacle-y shit up, thank God.

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