Those of you who know me or follow me on Twitter will probably share my relief – I’ve finally, finally cooked the octopus. Ever since I ate an octopus salad back in February at this meal, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of cooking one at home. First I tried sourcing at Borough – no joy. Next, my local fishmonger, but he only had a real monster in stock, so I waited another few days for a more manageably sized cephalopod. Apparently, they are really popular and so the whole freezer was stacked to the brim with different sized specimens.
Now in possession of the ‘pus, my next stumbling block was a familiar one – my memory. Every night I would intend to defrost it and simply forgot, thus delaying the big event even further. In the interim though, I had plenty of time to look around for recipes. At first I wanted to create something akin to the salad I enjoyed all those weeks earlier – lemon, parsley, garlic – light, fresh flavours. Then a conversation with Dan and Rob led me onto this classic preparation, something a bit more warming for a cold (if sunny) day in London.
My fishmonger informed me that this mediterranean (?) species of octopus is much more desirable than the English ones they buy fresh, which tend to be too tough, even after the necessary preparations.This beasty however turned out perfectly – I defrosted and gently boiled for 45 minutes or so, giving the tentacles a quick dipping first to scald them and curl them up (see below).
A liberal dusting of paprika and sea salt, a slosh of olive oil, a sprinkle of parsley and – ta-da! My first ever home cooked octopus. Not a bad effort considering I was slightly scared of the slimey sucker when I started out. At a tenner a pop, I won’t be cooking it every week, but it’s definitely a welcome addition to the repertoire.
Pulpo a la Gallega
I basically followed this recipe, but only cooked it for 45 minutes (until it was tender) and I employed the fancy dipping technique to make the tentacles curly.