Two of our main reasons for starting this blog were to find ways to challenge ourselves, and to cook with ingredients we haven’t used before. This week’s recipe certainly achieved those two goals! We were both a little scared of cooking octopus, but it turned out to be not very difficult and the results were delicious. This would be a great dinner party dish as you can do almost all of the work in advance and leave the octopus to marinate in the fridge overnight. This recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi and Scully’s Nopi cookbook, and like all of Ottolenghi’s recipes, the flavours of each component is perfect. We’ve never found kale particularly tasty, but this stir-fried kale is delicious and would work well as a side dish to any of your favourite mains. If the octopus challenge is too much for you, the salsa and kale would also work well with some fried fish fillets.
We took Ottolenghi’s advice and bought a frozen octopus, which we de-frosted before cooking. This helps to tenderise the meat and prevent it becoming chewy. If you buy a fresh octopus you could tenderise it by bashing it with a rolling pin, or by blanching the tentacles a few times in boiling water. We watched some helpful youtube videos on preparing the octopus (we recommend the videos from Sydney Fish Market for any kind of seafood preparation), as we were unsure if ours had been prepared or not. In the end all we had to do was cut out the eyes and we were ready to start cooking.
- 1 large frozen octopus, with head and tentacles (about 1.5kg)
- 1 small celery stick, roughly chopped
- 1 small fennel, trimmed and stalk removed, roughly chopped. Reserve the fronds for garnishing.
- 1 small leek, trimmed and sliced
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 500ml white wine
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp harissa
- ½ tsp rose water
- 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
- sea salt
- 50g golden raisins
- 1 small red onion, finely diced (110g)
- 100g pitted kalamata olives, finely sliced into circles
- 1 ½ Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 10g mint leaves
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 10g unsalted butter
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 300g kale, stalks removed and discarded, roughly chopped
- 80ml vegetable stock
- 80ml white wine
- If you need to clean the octopus, cut the head from the body just below the eyes and discard the head. Remove the beak from the top of the tentacles by turning the tentacles inside out and pushing the beak through. Peel and discard any excess skin, leaving the tentacles intact and still held together at the top.
- Put the celery, fennel, leeks, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander seeds, white wine and 1 teaspoon of salt into a large deep pot. Add 1.2 litres of water, bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium low heat. Using a pair of tongs, plunge the whole octopus into the hot water for about 5 seconds. Lift out, then repeat this process twice more. You will see the tentacles beginning to curl up with each plunge. This will also prevent the skin from peeling during cooking. Return the octopus to the water and submerge completely. Cover with a cartouche (a round of baking paper the same size as the pot) and cover with a large plate to ensure the octopus remains submerged. Simmer over a medium heat for 40 to 50 minutes, until the octopus is cooked through. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the octopus, you will know it is cooked when the flesh is tender but retains a little bite.
- Remove the octopus from the pot. Set it aside to cool and then transfer to the fridge for an hour or so, until chilled. You should now have about 650g of cooked octopus. Discard the stock and vegetables.
- Slice the octopus, leaving the tentacles untouched and cutting into the body to make 2cm thick slices. Place the octopus in a bowl with the olive oil, harissa and rose water. Stir to coat everything well, then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
- To make the salsa: place the raisins in a saucepan with 80ml of water. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and set aside for 1 hour. Drain any remaining liquid and place the raisins in a bowl with the rest of the salsa ingredients, except the mint. Add a grind of black pepper, mix well and set aside until ready to serve.
- To cook the kale: add the olive oil and butter to a frypan and place on a medium high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook until just brown, stirring constantly. Add the kale and keep stirring while you add the stock and wine. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and some black pepper to taste. Cooke for 3-4 minutes, until the kale has wilted. Drain the kale, shaking it in a colander to dry. Keep warm until ready to serve.
- Just before serving, place a griddle or frying pan over a high heat. Toss the octopus in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the griddle is smoking hot, add the octopus and grill for 1-2 minutes, turning it over halfway through. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan by working in batches if necessary. Once the octopus is charred and warmed through, transfer to a bowl and toss immediately in the lemon juice.
- Shred the mint and stir it through the salsa.
- To plate: place some of the kale in a small circle on each plate. Add two small circles of the salsa to each plate. Gently place a piece of octopus over each of the little piles of kale and salsa you have created. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and some halved Kalamata olives (optional).