Be bold, be brave… and try cooking octopus this summer. With this easy recipe from David Woods, executive head chef of the Sofitel London Gatwick, you won’t get your tentacles in a twist...
We have just put a chilled octopus starter on the La Brasserie menu and already it has become the top selling dish. It just goes to show that food programmes on the TV and travel abroad has made people far more adventurous when it comes to trying something new.
Octopus has a light taste, more like chicken than seafood, and easily takes on other flavours. This delicate starter is courtesy of our senior chef de partie chef Cristian Di Maggio who hails from Sicily where octopus is regularly on the menu. It is served with bittersweet lemon, roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes, candied black olive and tomato mousse. It’s a Mediterranean holiday in a mouthful.
Forget the idea that it might be rubbery – cooked properly and sliced thinly, octopus has a texture like cooked scallop.
Once arranged on a plate and dressed with lemon, roasted garlic, salad and olives, it will bear little resemblance to the mystical sea creature that you brought home from the fishmonger.
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Mediterranean Octopus Salad
Approx. 1kg of octopus
One onion, one carrot, one stick of celery,
100 ml white wine
one clove of garlic
3 fat garlic cloves
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon to serve
Fil a large saucepan with water and add salt, about 30g per litre so the octopus tastes of the sea once cooked.
Peel the carrot and onion. Chop into large chunks with the celery. Add the vegetables to the water with the wine and whole garlic cloves. Bring to the boil.
Add the octopus and gently simmer for about an hour. Leave to cool.
Meanwhile, wrap the lemon in foil and place in a hot oven, 180oC, for about 25 minutes until it starts to caramelise, and the juices start to seep out.
Cool then blitz into a puree in a food blender.
To roast the garlic. Slice the cloves thinly and fry in little olive oil for a few minutes until golden. Leave to cool on kitchen paper.
To serve, slice the octopus thinly and arrange in pattern on four plates.
Decorate with the bitter sweet lemon and roasted garlic. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze lemon.
Dip the octopus in and out of the simmering water before completely immersing it for the rest of the cooking time.
This gives the outside of the tentacles a lovely lobster pink hue.
Cold cooked octopus is perfect for the barbecue. Simply toss in olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and put on a grill for a few minutes each side until crisp. Serve with a squeeze of lemon.