Thaw the octopuses (in the fridge). We finished thawing ours in the sea.
Rinse of any grains of sand that might be left on the tentacles. If you have bought ungutted, remove the intestines and mouth.
Place the octopus in a large pot, add the whole peeled onion, all herbs, and a couple of wine corks. Cover with boiling water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer.
Simmer until tender. You will know its tender when a fork goes straight through the thickest part of the flesh. Should cook for 40 - 50 mins.
While it cooks, prepare the fresh salad ingredients – chopped parsley, capers, red onion, chopped olives, finely chopped tomato
When the octopussy is ready and wonderfully pink, take it out of the water and leave to cool a little.
It’s good to dress the salad while it’s still warm with olive oil, vinegar (Flora uses balsamic) sea salt and pepper. So chop the octopus into pound-size slices and dress.
When the potatoes are cooled chop the potatoes into small cubes and dress with olive oil.
Then start layering the capers, cherry tomatoes, olives, cubes of boiled potatoes, finely chopped garlic and parsley with the octopus, adding a layer of olive oil as you go.
On the side – bread! We forgot a loaf of bread so used a dried loaf, sprinkled with a little water and then “bunged” in the oven to regain its past glory!
Frozen octopus cooks much quicker than fresh, and it doesn’t lose any flavour. Even if it’s fresh, it’s better to freeze it. The ice breaks the muscles down which makes it much more tender. Usually the fishermen would have bashed it about to break the tissue in the tentacles when it emerged from the ocean.
Our Octopus comes from a local chef called Car who Flora has known since childhood. Because she told him she’s cooking for Grand Dishes he allowed her to buy one of his prized octopuses. Generally they’re very hard to come by at this time of the season!
Throughout the day Flora mainly refers to it as ‘octopussy’.
Octopus salad for 4 people
For cooking the octopus:
2 small or 1 big octopus, gutted
3 bay leaves
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 small red onion
2 sprigs thyme
1 tsp oregano
1 handful parsley
2 wine corks (added to the boiling water to further encourage the tenderisation process!)
For the salad:
2 medium boiled potatoes (you can do these in the octopus water)
1 small red onion finely chopped
1 small handful parsley leaves finely chopped (also good with dill!)
4 tbsp capers and their juice
3 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 plum tomatoes (or 6/8 cherry tomatoes)
8 black olives
8 red olives
Bottle of olive oil at the ready
Balsamic vinegar (or red wine vinegar)