My partner came back from a trip to the coast with octopus. I’ve cooked baby octopus before, marinated briefly and cooked fast on the barbeque. But these were a bit larger than the babies I’d cooked before. What to do with them?
They were fresh caught locally, a by-product of fin-fishing. I can find plenty of sources recommending against baby octopus imported from the Gulf of Thailand or Japan, but it seems Australian octopus is sustainable.
Which is good because octopus is a decent source of Omega 3 and 6, low in saturated fat, and a good source of several minerals (zinc, iron, copper, selenium) along with protein and some of the B vitamins.
There’s a few stages in preparing it, but the result is worth it.
Chop the heads off ½ kilo of octopus just below the eyes. Pop the beak out from the middle of the tentacles.
Turn the heads inside out, empty out the contents and rinse them.
Put both tentacles and heads in a pot, cover with water, boil for 5 minutes and drain.
You will now be able to just rub off the skin. You don’t need to get all of it off, just the easy to remove bits.
Heat some olive oil in a heavy pot and saute an onion, 6 cloves of garlic, 2 stalks of celery with some of the leaves, a tablespoon of basil and a tablespoon of oregano, a capsicum, a zucchini, four or five tomatoes (all chopped) and a cup of red wine. This is a very nice stew, but to my taste it needs a bit of zing – either a finely diced chili or a finely diced piece of preserved lemon to take it up a level.
Bring to the boil and simmer very gently, covered, for about an hour. Check it occasionally and add some water if it is boiling low. Taste the octopus. It should be very tender. If not, just simmer longer.
Taste the sauce and add lemon or lime juice, salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle some chopped parsley on top and serve. Served over couscous or with crusty bread, it makes two bowls for dinner, or it would make four very tasty entrees.