Musky octopus is a cephalopod mollusk with eight tentacles provided with a single row of suckers. In appearance it is quite similar to the octopus but it is not as big (it reaches a maximum of 40 cm with the tentacles extended). Its best season is spring, when it approaches the coast to lay its eggs.
The muskyoctopus owes its name to its characteristic smell of musk. It is abundant in the Upper Adriatic and has a variable color from gray to brown due to its ability to blend in, therefore adapting to many environments, characteristic of many cephalopods. Another type is the white octopus, so called because of its light texture with dark spots; it lives in all Italian seas.
A good indicator of the freshness of the musky octopus is the color: as soon as they are caught it is bright, then gradually loses its luster, the white turns to yellowish and the brown tends to grey. Also the pupil can reveal the octopus' freshness, if it is opaque in fact, it means that the mollusk has spent a period of time frozen.
This kind of octopus generally has a short life (18-24 months) and reach a maximum of 600- 700 g. It is different from the octopus because of its size and its single row of suckers; the ordinary octopus is bigger and has two rows of suckers.
The national production is a few thousand tons but, due to the high demand, they are also imported, almost always frozen. The small, and tender octopuses are more appreciated commercially and are suitable for numerous traditional preparations, in particular in Veneto (“alla busara", with white polenta) and in Liguria ("in zimino", with chard or spinach).
It can be prepared in many ways: in salads, fried, in a pan or boiled and served with mayonnaise.