Ft. Lauderdale sometimes seems like little more than a Florida stepchild compared to the glitz and glamour of Miami. But Ft. Lauderdale has beautiful beaches, inviting hotel properties, and great restaurants with fabulously fresh and innovative food offerings like the tender, fresh, and delicious grilled octopus at 3030 Ocean at the Harbor Beach Marriott.
The hotel itself is a great find. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a chain hotel kind of person, which I myself am not, it’s hard to resist this beachfront property with its generously sized rooms; impressive spa (complete with private pool); complimentary cookie and lemonade service in the afternoons; and flags on the pool side chairs to alert servers when you’re ready for a drink or a bite to eat. I can’t imagine why every hotel in the universe doesn’t adopt this innovation.
But what truly won my heart at Harbor Beach were the fresh seafood offerings that you’ll find at the super casual Sea Level restaurant located steps from the pool with a fun outdoor bar and the more refined 3030 Ocean with a sophisticated inside bar. The crab cakes and fresh snow crab claws are reason enough to visit Seal Level. And it was at 3030 that I fell in love with grilled octopus. Here’s chef Paula Dasilva’s mouthwatering recipe.
Grilled Octopus with Charred Artichokes, Preserved Lemons, Calabrese Peppers, and Parsley Sauce
For the Octopus:
1 large Octopus (4-6 lbs each)
1 Celery Stalk
1 Garlic Head
1 bunch Thyme
1 tbsp coriander
3 bay leaves
1 cup White Wine
1 lemon, sliced
In a large pot, sweat the onions, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic, thyme, coriander seeds, and bay leaves, and cook 2 more minutes. Deglaze with white wine and add the octopus. Cover with water and bring to a boil and then turn down to a gentle simmer and cook for about 1 hour or until tender. When knife-tender, remove the octopus and discard the liquid. When cool, break down the octopus by cutting off the head and cutting in half, then remove the tough beak from the center and cut down each tentacle separately. Marinate with the sliced lemons and coat with a good amount of olive oil.
When ready to serve, char on a hot grill and serve on top of the charred artichokes and preserved lemon salad. Top with parsley sauce.
To make preserved lemons:
Wash lemons and quarter. Place in a container and cover with salt. If preserving a large amount, be sure to salt each layer. Seal container and allow at least 1 week to preserve.
For the Salad:
10 baby artichokes - fresh
1 cup white wine
5 preserved lemons
5 calabrese peppers in oil, finely sliced (add to taste, very hot!)
2 tsp garlic puree
2 Tbsp chopped chives
Juice the lemons into some water to keep the artichokes from turning brown while you clean them. Clean the baby artichokes by removing the tough outer leaves and cutting off the top half of remaining leaves, about ½ inch above the heart. Peel the stem, and place in the acidulated water. Place the artichokes in a pot with the white wine and enough of the lemon water to cover. Season with salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 3 minutes, until the artichokes are tender. Remove them from the liquid and cool, then cut in half.
Rinse the preserved lemons well to remove some of the salt. Cut the flesh away from the rind, removing the white pith, so that you are left with just the flesh and the outer yellow skin. Reserve the skin for the parsley sauce, and combine the flesh with the artichokes.
On a hot grill or under a broiler, char the artichokes and preserved lemon flesh. Toss with the calabrese peppers, garlic puree, chives, and olive oil to coat. Do not season with salt as preserved lemons are very salty!
For the parsley sauce:
1 large bunch parsley leaves, washed
2 cloves garlic
3 preserved lemon skins
In a blender, combine garlic cloves, lemon skins, and just enough oil to blend well. Add the parsley leaves and again blend with just enough oil to combine. Season with salt.