Wild-caught octopus are slippery suckers but well worth the effort of wrestling with those tentacles. Slow cooked, they are tasty and tender. May be served chilled as finger food, bedded onto greens as warm salad, or as hot dish with a savoury-style rice.
For the dishes photographed, three octopus were used, each weighing about 300gm, and a simple fish stock. Chicken or vegetable stock can be substituted in, or lightly salted water. Preparing the octopus is a messy job but the recipe itself is very easy.
Cooking time: 1hour.
Serves 4 as a main dish; more for an entree.
You will need: deep frying pan or wide saucepan with lid; chopping board and knife; citrus squeezer; slotted spoon
Whole ocean octopus ≈ 1 kg total, prepared and washed (see below for preparation)
4 medium scrubbed potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
1 onion, peeled and diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery &/or small red pepper , diced
¼ cup sun-dried tomato pieces, or ½ cup very ripe fresh tomato, diced
2 limes, juiced
large sprig fresh rosemary
1 tbsp diced parsley or sweet basil
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
500 ml fish or chicken stock (or 500 ml water with 1 small level tsp salt/10-15ml fish sauce)
1. Add all ingredients except octopus and potato to deep-sided frying pan or wide saucepan. Heat to simmering (prepare octopus while this heats).
2. Add prepared octopus to sauce ingredients. Over low heat, return to simmering point. Just maintain the sauce ticking over on a slow simmer for 30 minutes, with lid on. (Boiling will toughen the octopus.)
3. After 30 minutes, add cut potato in a layer across the top of the pan. Continue slow cooking for another 30 minutes.
To serve as a warm salad: Allow to cool 10 minutes in the sauce, then lift out octopus and potato with a slotted spoon. Arrange on a bed of lettuce and salad greens. Dress with a drizzle of pan juices.
Frogblog Tip: Freeze remaining pan juices in 100ml quantities to add to curry, risotto, pilau or congee as stock as needed. The flavor is strong and delicious, but use judiciously so as not to overwhelm other ingredients.
To prepare whole ocean octopus:
It’s a good idea to spread open a newspaper on the bench and place the cutting board on that to contain the mess. When the job is done, just wrap up all the unwanted bits in the paper. Have a large bowl to hand for the flesh as it is prepared.
1. Cut the tentacles from the body, just below the eyes.
2. Cut off the hood above the eyes. Discard the 1 cm piece that holds the eyes.
3. Cut through the flap to separate tentacles from one another taking care to remove the hard black 'beak' at the centre point. Put tentacles in the bowl.
4. Cut the hood lengthwise down the middle. Pull out the inner workings and ink. Discard.
5. Rinse the hood pieces well. Cut each in half again. This allows them to curl neatly during the cooking. Add to the bowl.
6. Wash the prepared octopus pieces under running water.
To make a simple fish stock: In a pan lightly fry 1 diced onion and ½ diced carrot. Add 2 cups water, ¼ teaspoon salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a fish frame. Simmer 10 minutes. Discard fish frame.
SLOW-COOKED OCEAN OCTOPUS WITH SAVOURY RICE
Follow the recipe for warm salad of octopus. Instead of potato, use ¾ cup long grain white rice.
Add at Step 3, and stir in gently. Cook at a low slow simmer with lid on for 30 minutes.
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