Find out more about the octopus of Wallaga Lake and get Paul West's top tips to prepare for cooking.
The species of octopus caught in Wallaga Lake is probably Octopus Tetricus – otherwise known as the “Gloomy Octopus”.
It used to be primarily a northern NSW species of octopus but has moved down the coast and has been detected as far as Tasmania. (Get more info about differnt species of Octopus from the DPI here)
Octopus primarily emerges at night to feed, using its sharp beak to feed on crabs and molluscs, such as snails and bivalves. It has been known to feed on itsown species. It can change the colour of its skin (normally mottled brown) and shape to imitate seaweed.
Octopii are territorial and sit in their lair during the day surrounded by rocks and rubble that they collect to defend their home. Lairs can also be recognised by the scatter of freshly drilled shells of its prey.
They are a fully sustainable fishery and in Wallaga Lake (where they were caught) are the top predator, so their numbers are prolific.
PREPARATION OF OCTOPUS
To kill the octopus, pierce it between the eyes into its brain. It should lose colour quickly on death. Other methods are to put the fish in an ice slurry to put it to sleep or to turn its head inside out and clean out the brain matter.
TO PREPARE FOR COOKING
Lay the Octopus out flat and turn the head inside out, cut out the beak and gently remove the brain and intestinal matter.
Octopus are quite tough and can be tenderised by freezing and then defrosting and bring it back to room temperature. Alternatively, tenderise by slapping the octopus on the kitchen bench continuously – the Mediterraneans say that this should be done a minimum of 40 times. The octopus is ready to use.