Sunday, 27 September 2009

Eight legs good

Moseying back to Tottenham via Essex Road yesterday, I realised I wasn't far from fabulous fishmonger Steve first, it was hard to make out who was queue and who was just pressing their noses to the window. I moved from the second group to the first, and spotted a tray of tiny octopi, fresh from Devon. I've eaten octopus in Cyprus and Portugal and loved it, but have nervously held back from cooking it myself. Time to give it a try. Two of these babies cost me two quid - and I bought some smoked haddock for a kedgeree later in the week.
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.

1 comment:

goodshoeday said...

I like octopus but my husband thinks its rubber regardless of how its cooked. This looks delicious though. Not sure I'll be able to disguise it to attempt to get him to eat it. Love the cartoon as well.

PS Can you change your comment format so there is a name/url option - I can't comment from my new blog at the moment :(