This post originally appeared on Nightmare on Film Street
The Slender Man mythology, originating from a creepypasta story on the Something Awful forums sometime in 2009, has wound its way through our society, from spooky Internet meme to real life crime. Most recently, the character appears in the film Slender Man, directed by Sylvain White (who has directed episodes of The Americans and Sleepy Hollow). It was written by David Burke, and staring Joey King (The Conjuring), Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso and Javier Botet as the titular character.
Though the film itself may feel disappointingly thin (you can read the Nightmare on Filmstreet review here), the folklore itself is fascinating and it’s not hard to see how this spooky tale went viral. Slender Man is a supernatural figure, unnaturally tall with long, Lovecraftian tentacle-like arms, who wears a suit, and has a stark face without features. He dwells in the dark woods , and snatches children in the night. An insidious monster, he’s shadowy, has unknown motivations, and preys on the most innocent people in our society.
So what are we cooking up inspired by the most famous advent of Internet folklore, Slender Man? An elegant and very literal Creepy Pasta! Squid ink is what makes this spaghetti inky and black; the aesthetic is perfect, and it’s tasteless so you can cook it the same as any other spaghetti. Burrata cheese is pale and striking like Slender Man’s featureless visage. It’s lovely and creamy in this dish (if you can’t find burrata, fresh mozzarella would work as well), and the tarragon that seasons it is fragrant greenery that could be foraged in his woodsy home. The ingredients marry together like an evil plan.
If ink black pasta isn’t enough, it’s the octopus tentacles that take this dish into full creepypasta territory. They look impressive, and may seem daunting, but octopus is actually not too difficult to cook. It just takes a little patience stalking – I mean watching over – your cooking pot. Octopus can be rubbery, but slowly simmering it in a flavorful liquid for a long time yields tender tendrils that you can coil over your final dish.
Creepy Pasta (Squid Ink Pasta with Octopus and Burrata)
For the octopus
- 1 pound octopus, cleaned and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 lemon, quartered
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and place the lemon slices, skin down, for several minutes until charred. Charring the lemon will give a stronger lemony flavor. Add garlic cloves and stir until fragrant, being careful not to burn. Add several cups of water and bring to a low simmer on medium low heat. Gently lower octopus into the pot, and if necessary add enough water to cover. Simmer the octopus until very tender, about hour and a half, checking occasionally for water level.
Drain and gently remove octopus and pat dry. Cut tentacles off the head (which you can discard). In a small pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and sear tentacles on both sides until lightly golden. Remove and set aside.
For the pasta
- 4 ounces squid ink pasta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/4 cup white wine
- juice of half a lemon
- salt to taste
- 1 4 ounce ball burrata, torn
- small handful tarragon, finely chopped
Cook pasta al dente in well-salted water according to package directions. Before draining, reserve a half cup or so of the pasta water.
In a large pan, heat olive oil and saute garlic until lightly golden. Add white wine, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt, and cook until liquid is reduced and mostly cooked off. Add pasta to the pan and toss to coat, adding pasta water a tablespoonful at a time until desired consistency (liquid should just coat pasta but not be soupy).
Serve on a large plate; arrange torn burrata and octopus tentacles on top, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with chopped tarragon. Serve hot!