When you order octopus at a restaurant in Panama, you typically get less mass on your plate than you would if you ordered fish, but if it's cooked right, each bite is delectable. It can be served diced into bite-sized pieces (like in the photo shown on this blog) or as whole tentacles. If you are a newbie to octopus in Panama, be sure to order it diced so your preconceived notions don't get in the way of your enjoyment.
Before I moved to Panama, a very good friend of mine, Stacey Wetzel of Cater 10, cooked octopus for me in the Dallas, Texas. If octopus is cooked poorly, it is an inedible, tough muscle. There are several tricks for making it tender. One trick that Chef Stacey swears by is boiling it for several hours in beer.
Once octopus is tenderized, it can be cooked just like a fish. I’ve had it grilled (probably my favorite), sautéed in butter, and served with a variety of sauces, from pesto to remoulade to chef's surprise. Yesterday our dinner was at a French restaurant so the octopus was sautéed in butter, pesto and garlic. The restaurant we went to was amazing, so the octopus was as tender as sea bass.
If you haven't tasted octopus, be sure to try it soon... hopefully in Panama!