Posts Tagged ‘octopus’
I had never eaten octopus before moving to Portugal and was surprised by the great quantity of Portuguese recipes that contained it when I moved here. I spent my early months in Portugal convinced that I was allergic to it, as well as being put off by its appearance. Gradual experimentation, however, proved that not only did I not have an allergy to octopus, it was actually a really succulent and tasty ingredient.
It still took over three years before I dared to try and cook octopus on my own. I used a recipe from Piri Piri Starfish: Portugal Found by Tessa Kiros, which is probably my most-used Portuguese cookbook, whether for main dishes, delightful desserts or just quick snacks. I would recommend it for anyone who is experimenting with Portuguese cooking. You can get it here:
I had worried that the long cooking time for this recipe would result in a rather chewy meal, but the method of slow-roasting the tentacles in a lovely red wine sauce resulted in soft, tender octopus that went down extremely well when served as a family meal (the recipe below was enough for five of us).
As with all my favourite Portuguese recipes this is best served with slices of fresh bread to mop up the rich sauce, and as usual I made a few tweaks to the recipe based on personal preference and what I had in the store cupboard.
700g frozen octopus, pre-cleaned and cut into pieces
Big glug extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp dried parsley
600g chopped plum tomatoes (tinned)
Small pinch piri piri chili flakes
750g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
250ml red wine
1. Defrost the octopus and give it a quick rinse, then chop it into chunks of about 1 inch.
2. Heat the oven to 200C.
3. Heat the olive oil in a pan and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes before adding the chopped tomatoes. Season and simmer for about 5 minutes, then stir in most of the parsley and all of the chili flakes.
4. Put the octopus and potatoes in an oven-proof dish and pour over the tomato mixture and wine. Prod everything around a bit to ensure it is coated and well mixed. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for an hour.
5. Remove the foil and cook for a further hour, turning the oven down to 170C.
6. Scatter the top with remaining parsley and serve.
I avoided eating octopus for the first two years that I lived in Portugal, as I suspected, based on a severe stomach ache when I first moved here, that I was allergic to it. Finally, when out for dinner at a restaurant in Santa Luzia (the ‘octopus capital’ of the Algarve), I gave in to temptation and tried some octopus feijoada. It was delicious and, happily, had no ill effects. The world of octopus-eating had suddenly opened up before me.
This recipe is one of my favourites. It has been pinched from a family member who, after eating an amazing octopus salad in Lisbon, decided to recreate the experience at home. It is simple, healthy and delightful served with warmed slices of dense, chewy Portuguese bread.
This serves four as a starter or makes a nice, quick lunch for two.
1 tin Octopus in garlic oil
½ jar Portuguese pickles (mixed cauliflower, gherkin and carrot)
½ red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Handful coriander or parsley, chopped
1-2 tbsp white wine vinegar
Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Open the tinned Octopus and drain the oil into a medium sized mixing bowl. Chop the octopus into chunks of about 1 cm (½ inch) and add to the bowl with the oil.
2. Drain the pickles and add to the bowl, along with the red onion, garlic, herbs and white wine vinegar.
3. Season to taste and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil if required.
4. Serve and enjoy.
Anyone keen to find more wonderful Portuguese recipes should try this book – one of my favourites:
Piri Piri Starfish: Portugal Found