Barbecued Octopus, Pickled Persimmon, Lemon Aïoli, Mustard Seeds, and Mustard Greens

Adapted by
June 2017
Yield: 8 Servings
Chef Vartan Abgaryan of 71Above's plates belie the obsessive fine-tuning and technical detail he works into every dish. At the 12th Annual Chefs Congress, Abgaryan will lead a hands-on workshop where he will show attendees how he cooks food with comfort and confidence in a fine dining kitchen.


1/2 cup olive oil
1 shallots, minced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 mediterranean octopus, cleaned
1 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chile flakes
1 cup Sherry vinegar
Pickled Mustard Seeds
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mustard seeds
Pickled Pearl Onions
1 cup Champagne vinegar
1 small red beet, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Celtic salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 red pearl onions, blanched, peeled, and halved
1 cup ice cubes
Pickled Persimmons
2 cups white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 whole cloves
1 stick cinnamon
3 dry allspice berries
5 dry juniper berries
1 cup ice cubes
2` Hachiya persimmons, cut into 16 wedges
Persimmon Barbecue Sauce
1 cup neutral oil
2 strips bacon
1 small onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 sprig thyme
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Sherry vinegar
2 cups ketchup
1 cup Hachiya persimmon pulp
Lemon-Garlic Aïoli
1 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
4 egg yolks
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups grapeseed oil
Chicharrón Spice Blend
1 cup sumac
1/2 cup aleppo pepper
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon citric acid
2 tablespoons salt
To Assemble and Serve
Oil for frying


For the Octopus

Heat oven to 350°F. In a pan over medium-high fl ame, heat oil. Sauté shallot and garlic until soft. Add octopus, cover with parsley and chile fl akes, and add vinegar. Cover pan securely, and braise octopus in oven until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and chill, reserving octopus in braising liquid. 

For the Pickled Mustard Seeds

In a saucepan over high heat, combine vinegar and salt and bring to a boil. Add mustard seeds and cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and steep 30 minutes. Strain through a chinois, reserving seeds.

For the Pickled Pearl Onions

In a saucepan over high heat, combine vinegar, beet, salt, and sugar. When mixture boils, remove from heat and add onions. Steep 3 minutes, add ice, and reserve.

For the Pickled Persimmons

In a saucepan over high heat, combine vinegar and spices. When mixture boils, remove from heat and add ice. When cooled slightly, add persimmon, cover, and pickle for 4 hours; drain and reserve persimmon.  

For the Persimmon Barbecue Sauce

In a saucepan over medium fl ame, heat oil. Sauté bacon until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels, leaving fat in the pan. Add onion, garlic, and thyme; sauté until fragrant. Add spices, vinegar, ketchup, and persimmon pulp. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes. Strain through a chinois and season sauce with salt.

For the Lemon-Garlic Aïoli

To a food processor, add egg yolks, lemon juice, vinegar, and garlic. Blend, slowly adding oil to emulsify. Season with salt.

For the Chicharrón Spice Blend

In a bowl, combine all ingredients.

To Assemble and Serve

Heat oil in a deep fryer to 350°F. In a saucepan, warm Persimmon Barbecue Sauce. Cut 1 arm from Octopus and fry until crisp. Transfer to a sheet tray lined with wire rack to drain; brush with barbecue sauce, lightly coating arm. Arrange arm on serving plate, fi nish with a couple of Pickled Persimmon wedges, along with some Pickled Mustard Seeds and Pickled Pearl Onion petals. Dot plate with Lemon-Garlic Aïoli and garnish with Chicharrón Spice Blend and mustard greens.