Octopus Rendang (Rendang Ochtapodi)

Without too much introduction, for Malaysia Day (16/9), I decided to make a fusion of my favourite foods from my adopted country and the land of my birth. I love rendang, its my go-to dish when I want to wow new dinner guests. And I love octopus. I was practically an adult when I first tried this 8-tentacled mollusc and it is something I distinctively think of as Greek. This is the first time I have attempted to make this dish, and I adapted it from my Grandma’s great Chicken Rendang recipe.

I have decided to keep the ingredients as simple as possible – the octopus is salty and the juices from the octopus will already taste sweet so there is no sugar, salt or pepper to add – just the rendang ‘holy trinity’, coconut milk, kerisik and chilli paste (according to taste). I didn’t want the chilli to overpower the delicate flavour of the octopus, so I only used 1 tablespoon.

It tastes super yummy, please do give it a try if you can find octopus. I will make it again soon, and I hope to take more pictures. Enjoy, my Greek-Malaysian fusion Octopus Rendang.

Ingredients: (makes 4 portions, which is enough for 2-4 people, depending on how hungry you are.. or greedy.)

1 octopus, cleaned (mine came up to 800g)
1 can of coconut milk

The Rendang Holy Trinity
2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, chopped/sliced thinly.
2 thumb-sized pieces of fresh ginger, sliced into thin matchsticks.
4-5 small shallots, sliced thinly into strips.

1-2 tbsp heaps full of Kerisik
Simple chilli sambal paste, 1 tbsp.

Preparation:

1. Rinse the cleaned octopus. Cut them into several pieces. I 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. No need to add water! 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:-

3. Reserve the juices. Chop the octopus into bite-sized pieces.

4. Into a pot, add the juices, the holy trinity ingredients, the coconut milk, and the chilli paste. Cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes.
5. Add the octopus pieces, and mix well.

6. On medium low heat, braise the mixture. Stir every once in a while to make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom of the pot. Halfway through, just as the liquid is beginning to reduce significantly, mix in the kerisik.
7. Once the mixture looks like it does in the picture above, turn the heat on high and cook it, while stirring, for another 2-3 minutes to crisp up the rendang.
8. Its ready! Serve with steamed rice.
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