We readily buy frozen baby octopus (occy) in supermarkets etc. so I expect it should be available world wide. Fresh is better of course.
Firstly don't believe all the stories about octopus being tough and needing special treatment. Never been a problem for me and I cook baby octopus on average once a fortnight. I rarely cook it the same way twice, I love to experiment so none of this baby octopus recipe is really set in concrete. For this recipe you will need:
That's about all you need.
If you don't have fresh baby octopus you need to defrost the packaged frozen variety. The method which works best for me is to half fill the kitchen sink with cold water and simply chuck the occy in it. Do this a good hour before you want to get down to the sharp end of business, you may need to change the water a couple of times - forget the microwave.
Meanwhile check out the wine, is it acceptable?
Next you need to establish whether the baby octopus has been cleaned or not and more important, the dreaded ink sac has been removed. If not, you have a job ahead of you, if they're already cleaned it, shout yourself another wine in relief.
Assuming we have clean and defrosted baby octopus you get on to the next stage of gently sauting the leeks which I cut rather thinly and then wash off the residual dirt. You can use onions if you must but the flavour just isn't there. The leeks along with the garlic, chilli, herbs and spices are of course gently sauteed in the real good olive oil. I only use a hint of dried chilli but that's simply a personal preference. Fresh herbs would be better if available.
Meanwhile as all this good activity is going on I usually enjoy a wine and begin cutting up the baby octopus. First I remove the heads on a cutting board and then halve the legs (tentacles) section. These are progressively added to the sautee mixture and turned frequently, they will shrivel a bit, release delicious juices and turn a reddish colour.
At this point I add the tinned tomatoes, a good dollup of tomato paste (two tblsp) and at least one cup of wine plus a dash of brandy, if it's on hand.
Simmer (the gentle blurp, blurp variety) for around twenty minutes while you check out the wine once more. "I Love To Cook With Wine - Sometimes I Even Put It In The Food".
Stir at regular intervals and serve with good chunks of bread to dunk in the juices. Surplus baby octopus and sauce maybe kept in the refrigerator for 24 hours but I wouldn't keep it any longer.
Five minutes or more before you're finished add a fillet of your favourite fish, mine's eastern Australia "Mullet" - Ozzies shut your face - "Mullet" has a musky, oily and muddy flavour which I love, but what would I know?. Add your own local preference it'll mainly disintegrate but it adds to the rich flavours.
Another variation of mine is to buy mussels which I defrost in a similar manner as the octopus, thoroughly wash and remove the beards. If I'm using mussels, I withold the wine from the baby octopus and place the mussels in a large saucepan with the wine and steam them in the wine for 10 minutes.
You must discard any mussels which fail to open. The others I tip into the baby octopus along with the wine and juices. Just stir the mussels through the baby octopus.
Try it, experiment but above all, ENJOY. There are very few genuine pleasures in life beyond food and wine.
The number between 5 and 7 readily springs to mind, I'm almost 60 but not out, maybe a little mad, irredeemable and most certainly irreverent but I put that down to my early Australian upbringing when Aussies were "real dinky-di" Aussies.
Let me know how you go
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Created 20th January, 2002
Updated 22nd January, 2002