Posted May 7, 2008
Superior Fish has made tradition of providing octopi for Red Wings fans
ROYAL OAK — After the Detroit Red Wings ended many years of dismal regular season records and non-existent playoff runs with renewed success in the late 1980s and early 1990s, a call went out for the octopus.
Enter Superior Fish Co. in Royal Oak.
The eight-legged creature of the sea was buried deep in Red Wings lore, with fans tossing octopi onto the ice during the 1950s — a decade in which the team won four Stanley Cup titles — symbolizing the eight wins then needed to win the Cup.
“We were all Red Wings fans, and we were in the seafood industry,” said co-owner Kevin Dean about reviving the octopus tradition. “It was a symbiotic relationship.”
Dean said it all started with a simple display at the store, and not long after the Red Wings had asked the store for some octopus salad and to be able to put some on display at Joe Louis Arena.
“It just took off from there,” he said about the 1994 season, a year before the Red Wings made the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in nearly 30 years.
For fans wanting to hurl octopi of any size onto the ice, Superior Fish has been the place to go ever since.
Calling themselves the O-Fish-Al Octopi Supply Store, the company has a large display in the front of the store, located on 11 Mile just east of Main Street, with various octopi surrounded by Red Wings paraphernalia.
Co-owned by brothers Kevin and David Dean, the store has been a family-owned market since it opened in the 1940s. The Deans’ father, John Dean, bought the business in the mid-1950s and later passed it on to his sons.
The market sells octopi to throw at games, or for another reason that is also popular: to keep at home for a hockey viewing party.
“Some people like to have it in a bowl of ice (for a party),” Kevin Dean said. “We give you recipes, too.”
Among the most popular and tasty is an octopus chili stew, he said. The store also sells octopus salad and smoked octopus.
“The octopus is the hot dog of the orient; it’s very abundant, and it’s relatively low cost,” Dean said. “Plus there is really no waste on it. You can cook every part of it.”
David Dean said one of his favorite meals is the octopus chili stew cooked up by his brother.
“With the chili, (it’s) half meat and half octopus,” he said. “The octopus is all chopped up very finely.”
He says the octopus takes on the taste of the stew.
“It absorbs the sauce that it’s in,” David Dean said.
The octopus runs $3.95 a pound; they can run as small as 1 to 2 pounds, and as big as 10 pounds.
Of course, with the Red Wings advancing to the Western Conference finals, the store is happy to sell octopi to be tossed on the ice, but be warned, such a purchase comes with Superior’s Octoquette — a list of proper etiquette for tossing an octopus on the ice.
“We started that years ago because throwing the octopus on the ice was inhibiting game time,” Kevin Dean said.
The National Hockey League banned objects from being thrown on the ice in the middle of the game, making it a penalty for the home team. Thus, Superior Fish recommends tossing the octopus only after the completion of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
Then there’s the slime.
After the Nashville Predators complained to the NHL that slime from the octopus was on the ice after arena superintendent Al Sobotka would twirl it around his head early in the playoff run this year, the NHL reportedly told the Red Wings that if the octopi are twirled by Sobotka on the ice, the team will be fined $10,000.
If properly boiled, there will be no slime, Dean said.
In fact, if you tell Superior Fish workers that you are buying it to throw on the ice, they will boil it for you, put it in a Ziploc bag and give you gloves as well.
“We respect any and all rules and what they stand for, but sometimes there is too much government intervention,” Dean said about the new restrictions.
Red Wings officials were at the store recently to film a demonstration to put on their Web site, showing how boiling the octopus gets rid of the slime, he said.
For more recipes and more on the octopus, visit Superior Fish Co. on the Web at www.superiorfish.com.
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