Octopus is definitely one of my sea food favorites. I used to be a little overwhelmed, when I saw it in a supermarket and at the end I never bought it. I had no idea what to do with the monster! However, Jan convinced me that there is no need to be afraid. Preparing octopus is an easy process and the result is more than pleasant. So let’s do it!
For 2 portions
2 octopuses (up to 500 g)
a bottle of red wine (full-bodied)
1 bulb of garlic
1 big potato
1 spring onion
300 ml tomato passata
1 chilli (bird’s eye)
1 white radish
15 black olives
fresh basil and parsley
30 g butter
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp whole allspice
First, we need to get rid of the black tooth that is pretty hard and wouldn’t look very well on the plate. If you bought a headless octopus, it is simple – you just need to cook it properly. If you got a complete one, just cut the head off under the eyes and rinse it with cold water.
Chop the carrot and onions. Sauté them in a pot with some olive oil until brown. Add the garlic (just separate the cloves, you don’t need to peel them). Add the passata, chilli and red wine and let the alcohol cook out.
Put the octopus in the pot and add enough water for it to be immersed. Season lightly with salt: well, octopuses live in salty water, so they do not need too much! Add the bay leaves, whole peppercorns and allspice (we put all the spices in a tea infuser, which is a great trick: it is much easier to take them out at the end as they are not all over the place).
After one hour of cooking, check if it’s tender. Ideally, you should be able to cut through the wider part of tentacle with no resistance. Usually, you need about 1,5 – 2 hours to cook an octopus, but it depends: if you use a pressure cooker, it is done in an hour. Dice the peeled potato and add it to the pot. At the end just throw in the chopped olives.
Season the sauce with salt/pepper and chopped herbs, spring onion and butter (if needed). Some people are not much into octopus, as they have bad experience from holiday (remember the time, you had this chewy octopus in Croatia? Yep, exactly…). But don’t worry and try it at home. You don’t have to make the sauce, as we do: just cook it in water with some root veggies and red onion: the onion gives it a great color. At the end you can pan-fry it or grill it, entirely up to you!
Put everything on the plate: the sauce should be thick enough by itself. Finish with some basil and sliced white radish. Perfect! Enjoy!