We have an abundance of octopus in our British waters, but unlike the Greeks and the Spanish, we seem to shy away from wanting to eat or cook them. The next time you’re at the fishmongers, be adventurous and buy yourself one – I promise you won’t be disappointed! They’re easy to cook, once they’re cleaned and prepared, so long as you follow the instructions below and don’t skip the simmering stage as this is the part that helps to tenderise the octopus. Without this, you’ll end up with a leathery horrible piece of meat that’s inedible.
Preparing the Octopus:
There are four things that you need to do to the octopus before it’s ready to cook with. You could just ask your fishmonger to do this for you – or if you’re happy to give it a go yourself, then simply follow these four steps.
1. Turn the the octopus’s head inside out – and you’ll see a sack full of not to very nice looking goo. Try not to cut the sack as this will release inks and all sorts of nastiness, so taking a sharp knife, carefully cut the sack away from the head meat and then throw it away (this isn’t good for anything!)
2. Flip the octopus upside down and you’ll see a little brown chestnut colour circular type shell. This is called the ‘beak’. Pushing your fingers from the other side of the octopus with your thumbs, push the beak until it pops all the way out – remove it and discard.
3. You’ll see two eyes just below the head – cut these out with a sharp knife and discard.
4. On the outside of the head, you’ll see excess grey coloured skin. Make a small slit with a sharp knife, and then simply peel the skin from the meat – discard the skin as although it’s edible, it will just go slimy once cooked. Finally, give the octopus a good rinse, removing any dirt from the suckers and you’re good to go 🙂
1 x medium-large English Octopus (cleaned and prepared as outlined above)
2 x dried bayleaves
1 egg cup full of red wine
2 large potatoes (Desiree or Cyprus as best as they have a nice waxy texture)
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1. Place the octopus snuggly in to a saucepan and add the bayleaves, red wine and black pepper. Put on a tight lid and leave to simmer gently for 20 minutes.
2. Slice the potatoes in to rounds approximately 1 inches thick and lay them out in a deep baking tray.
3. Once the octopus has been cooked, remove it from the pan, discard the bayleaves and place the octopus on top of the potatoes in the baking tray.
4. Pour over all of the juices from the pan to cover the potatoes and the octopus.
5. Pour over the olive oil and add some salt and pepper to season
6. Place in the oven on Gasmark 5 for 15 minutes. Then remove from the oven, turn the ocopus over and return for another 15 minutes, or until all of the juices have disappeared.
7. Serve on a dish and sprinkle with lots of paprika and a little more sea salt and olive oil.
Enjoy with a nice glass of Rioja 🙂