Octopus. One of those ingredients you perhaps love when someone does it ‘properly’, ie when you don’t cook it. Does it end up too rubbery? Not sure how to cook it? Not sure why it’s awesome?
Octopus grows fast and has a short life cycle, making it a great sustainable choice when procured locally (watch for frozen imports, especially baby octopus). The problem with Octopus is that people often end up with chewy, unpleasing textures when cooking it too long or not long enough.
If you were to cook octopus for a stir fry, definitely best to marinate first to tenderise it.
If you were to want to cook it longer, a braise like we’re doing here, is the way to go.
Salt warning: Be careful adding salt to Octopus dishes. Always taste first as there’s a lot of natural salt all caught up in those tentacles! In this recipe I didn’t need to add any at all but the last time I used Octopus, I did. For more info on Octopus, check out one of my favourite sites for sustainability ratings and seafood info, Good Fish Bad Fish.
Let’s make stew. This is a rich tomatoey stew. Depending on how much the liquid reduces, you may find yourself needing to add a cup of water towards the end to lengthen it. Go by feel and taste – brave new world out there! Give yourself 10 minutes prep time and 90 minute braise where you might need to stir / check twice in that time.
What you’ll need (Serves 4)
2 Octopus, all tentacles and flesh chopped into 1cm-2cm chunks (to get an idea of size, have a look at the ingredients below)
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp ground or crushed turmeric
1 cup tomato passata or chopped tomatoes
1 cup water
2 small purple onions, sliced or chopped – who cares!
5 tablespoons ghee, macadamia or coconut oil
3 cloves garlic
optional nutrient boost: sea veggies. I added a small handful of wakame but you could do 2 teaspoons dulse flakes
1/2 bunch parsley
2 spring onions for garnish
What to do
In a large pot or wide, deep pan on medium heat, fry the two onions in the fat you’re using until they start to get a bit caramelised (ie not firm any more and a few golden ones)
Add the fennel seeds, turmeric and stir through
Add the octopus chunks and chopped garlic and sauté for a minute or two
Add the stock, tomato, water, sea weed (if using)
Add half of the parsley, keeping other half for garnish
Braise as soon as back to bubble, on low heat and smaller element for 90 minutes, lid off. Come and check 2-3 times and give a little stir.
5 minutes before serving, turn heat back up to medium, add zucchinis and cook through.
Taste it. If too rich at the end of the 90 minutes, just add a 1/2 cup of water and stir through
Gluten free noodle addition – Buckwheat noodles or vermicelli would be a great thing to toss into the pot 10 minutes before serving. It will cut the richness.
Pop into bowls and serve as is, with fresh spring onion and parsley scattered over the bowls
Add a wedge of lemon for people to squeeze over theirs if they fancy – gives a delicious tang to the salty richness.
Bread eaters – this would suit a crusty sourdough on the side
Real Food. Yummy. Easy. Nourishing.
Next time? You could do all steps except Octopus, and simply poach a few chunks of firm white fish at the end for a delicious fish soup. Note, you would need to add salt if not using the Octopus.