I can’t remember the first time I had octopus. I may have tried the rubbery plain kind you find on top of nigiri sushi back in Kuala Lumpur, but the first time I had octopus that didn’t try to dislodge my teeth was in a taverna in Thessaloniki, approximately 13 years ago. It was divine. Grilled, seasoned with olive oil and oregano. Heavenly smooth. That is the beginning of my love affair with this cephalopod mollusc. This dish is relatively simple. It’s extremely tasty, and it goes a long way if you are planning to have a dinner party that doesn’t require too much work, but still wow your guests. Here I have served it with small short macaroni like pasta – it goes well with this sauce, but you can serve it with crusty bread or rice, just omit the pasta adding stage and serve hot.
You can get the octopus from your fishmongers. They would have tenderised it for you, so ask first, just in case. You can get them to clean it for you too. If you can’t find it fresh, you can buy it frozen from the supermarket and they are usually cleaned before packing.
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 1 octopus, cleaned.
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
- 1 can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 glass of good red wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp of whole allspice
- 1 tsp of ground pepper
- a big handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
- 500g of short macaroni-like pasta (these are called kofto pasta, but anything with tubes do fine)
1. Rinse the cleaned octopus. You can cook it whole in the pot, or cut them into several pieces – cut the legs/tentacles off and the center part into 2.
2. Pre-cook the octopus. Add it into a pot, cover and just braise it on medium heat. The octopus will cook in its own juices. Depends on the size of the octopus, but I check how soft it is with a toothpick/small fork after 20 minutes. If it’s a medium-large sized octopus you may need 30 minutes. You will end up with that:-