My 11-year-old nephew saw this recipe for slow-braised octopus on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and asked if we could re-create it at home. Fresh octopus are not very easy to find in the UK, however when visiting the excellent food market on Tachbrook Street, Pimlico I noticed that the Jonathan Norris fishmonger stall had a couple of fine specimens. Asking for the smaller of the two (still approximately 2 kilos!), the assistant explained that the Spanish cephalopod had already been prepared and was ready to be cooked.
While it was obvious that the octopus had been gutted, I presume it had also been tenderised by being previously frozen and/or been through a tenderising process. After some internet research, I discovered that industrial devices are sometimes used that resemble a washing machine!
The following recipe broadly follows Matt Tebbutt’s from Saturday Kitchen, however we added the additional step of blending, straining and reducing the remaining cooking liquid to create a rich sauce. We also experimented by barbecuing a cooked tentacle, which also produced a delicious result. The resultant flesh losses all rubberiness, and has the texture of soft meat.
Enjoyed best outdoors on a hot summer’s day accompanied by a glass of cold white wine.
Serves: 6-8 (as a starter)
Skill level: Low
Equipment required: Large oven-proof casserole dish with lid, sieve and food blender (optional)
Prep time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 2-2.5 hours
1 whole octopus (about 1.5-2kg), cleaned and left whole, beak and eyes removed
200-250ml olive oil
600g fresh ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 garlic bulb, halved
1 sprig rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
1-2 large red chillies
Step 1: Wash your whole octopus in clean running cold water, checking that its eyes and beak have been removed (If not, they can be squeezed, pushed, and popped out with your hands).
Step 2: Transfer the octopus to your casserole dish, and add the olive oil, chillies, garlic, tomatoes and herbs.
Step 3: Cover the casserole with its lid, and transfer to a preheated oven at approximately 140 degrees centigrade.
Step 4: After an hour, remove the casserole from the oven, and gently turn the octopus checking that nothing is catching on the bottom. Re-cover, and return to the oven.
Step 5: After 2 hours, remove again and test the tenderness of a tentacle with a fork. If the flesh offers little resistance and has lost its springiness, remove from the oven, else continue to cook.
Step 6: Remove the cooked, whole octopus from the casserole dish, and set aside to cool. Remove any herb twigs and garlic skin that you can and blend the cooking liquid with a stick blender/food processor.
Step 7: Pass the blended cooking liquid through a sieve into a separate saucepan, and gently reduce by a third over a low heat, to create a sauce.
Step 8: Slice the Octopus (tentacles and body) into hearty chunks, and cover with the sauce. Transfer to a serving plate ready for the table. Your more squeamish guests may prefer to serve themselves the quantity that they prefer!
This dish is delicious served hot or cold as part of a summer salad. Once cooked, try basting a whole tentacle in the sauce and transfer to a hot barbecue to add a smoky and charred touch.Find Flavour Seeker on social media: