If you’re a little afraid of not knowing exactly how to cook fresh octopus and are concerned about spending big dollars on a complex cooking mistake, then don’t be. This simple poaching and pickling method will have you feeling as experienced as an authentic Sicilian fishermen in his retirement years. The final result is a wonderfully rewarding dish that can be shared with a large group of family and friends.
One medium or large fresh octopus
2-3 red wine corks (optional)
1. Thoroughly clean the octopus, tentacle by tentacle, making sure all grit is removed from its suckers.
2. Remove and discard the head by cutting just below the eyes.
3. Remove the beak pushing it though the opening in the centre of the body.
4. In a large pot, three-quarter-filled with water, bring to the boil. If preferred, add used red wine wine corks as the tannins can assist in tenderising the octopus.
5. Using fingertips or tongs, from a height: hold the centre of the octopus body, and carefully dip the tentacles into the boiling water, submerging almost all of the octopus for 30 seconds then remove from water by slowly raising the octopus. Repeat this step 3-4 times. This will curl the tentacles and help to temper (reduce elasticity) of the flesh.
6. Depending on size, cook the octopus on a low heat, gently simmering for 1-2 hours.
7. Check for tenderness by piercing the flesh. If ready, turn off heat and allow to cool for a further hour, leaving the octopus in the cooking liquid.
8. Remove octopus from the cooking liquid in preparation for pickling.
juice of six lemons
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3-4 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried oregano
6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly crushed
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1-2 cups water
½ cup Apple cider vinegar
2 dried red chillies, roughly chopped
1. In a large pot add all ingredients, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
2. Add cooked, drained octopus to the pickling mixture and allow to infuse for 1-2 hours. Allow the octopus and pickling mixture to cool completely.
reserved pickling mixture
200g buckwheat, steamed and tossed in melted butter
half bunch continental parsley, roughly chopped
chilli (from pickling mix), chopped
extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
sea salt and black pepper for seasoning
freshly picked pea shoots, pea flowers and mustard to garnish
1. Remove octopus from picking mixture, reserving the liquid. Cut the octopus tentacles into even portions, saving the curled tentacle ends to top each plate.
2. Add a generous amount of steamed buckwheat to each plate – 3-5 heaped tablespoons.
3. Add a tablespoon of chopped continental parsley to each dish and toss through the buckwheat.
4. Top the buckwheat with octopus tentacle segments, 4-5 tablespoons of the pickling liquid and as much chopped chilli as you desire.
5. Drizzle the octopus with extra virgin olive oil, season with cracked black pepper and a little salt. Garnish with pea shoots, garden flowers