This cartoon from 1882 gives us the very rare 11-limbed octopus, as England gobbled up bits of the globe in its imperial hunger. Meanwhile, back at home, I scoured the bookshelves for what to do with my catch. The first recipe that really caught my eye is from Tess Kiros' Piripiri Starfish, her book of Portuguese cooking. It's a slow cook in the oven - around two hours from start to finish.
I gave the octopi a good wash, then cut them into thick strips. Next, the sauce...
...some shallots and garlic gently fried off in olive oil, then a good slosh of homemade pureed tomatoes. I didn't have any piripiri pepper, so I added a shake of cayenne.
While the sauce is simmering quietly, chop up the potatoes (I thought my Burgundy Reds would go well with the colour scheme) and add the octopus. Pour over the tomato sauce, then add a glass of red wine - an inky Chilean merlot was what I had to hand.
Then the dish goes in the oven at gas mark 6 with a covering of foil for an hour. A sweet fruity scent began to waft through the house. The foil comes off for a final 45 mins in the oven - this is to get the slightly crusty texture that Tess recommends.
Bread is the traditional Portuguese accompaniment - and some tomatoes from the garden. It smelled deeply rich and had that lovely rich, savoury/sweet seafood taste. The octopus was meaty and not remotely rubbery. Yum. This is a great dish, and makes me wonder why we're not scoffing this eight-legged wonder on a regular basis.