Monday, 16 December 2013

Italian stewed octopus recipe

Italian stewed octopus 
A very delayed recipe post here because Dave first cooked this Italian-inspired meal while we were still in Spain and I've been meaning to blog it ever since because this is a delicious dinner. I am surprised at myself that I am happy to eat octopus because I am quite squeamish about things like cooked fish 'looking at me' during my meal and octopus isn't the most visually appetising of seafood, but when it's cut into pieces, it doesn't look too scary! I think I first tasted it in a rice stew when we were in Croatia. The dish contained a few whole baby octopi so I could see exactly what I was eating. One of the main reasons to travel for me though is to try new foods so I was very brave!

It is possible to buy small packs of about 300g of pre-cooked octopus pieces in Spanish supermarkets and this worked perfectly for the first time of creating this dish. For the second time I think we were already in Portugal and had to buy frozen raw octopus instead in order to get little enough for just the two of us. Most meat and seafood in Portugal seems to be sold in quantities suitable for feeding your extended family at every meal. The raw octopus tasted just as good in the end but took a lot longer to cook.

300g octopus pieces (or enough for two people)
olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
200ml tomato passata or tinned chopped tomato
100ml white wine
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp dried dill
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp chilli powder
salt and pepper

If your octopus is raw, boil in in a large pan of salted water for 1-2 mins, then drain, cut into large pieces, and saute in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. If it's already pre-cooked, ignore this stage.
Heat oil in a large pan and add the octopus pieces. Add chopped garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add the wine and bring to the boil over a high heat. Stir well and allow to cook for about five minutes. Add tomato and chilli powder then bring back to a simmer.
Add sugar and a scant tsp of salt.
Mix well, cover and simmer for about half an hour.
Check if octopus is done. If it still needs more cooking time, add half the dill and parsley at this point, re-cover pan and allow to continue cooking for up to 45 minutes. Check every 15 minutes or so. Add remainder of dill and parsley when it is done.
If octopus was already cooked at the end of the 30 minutes, add all the dill and parsley together, leave the pan uncovered and turn up the heat for an additional ten minutes to slightly reduce the sauce.
Serve with pasta penne or hunks of fresh bread.

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