August 1, 2016
I can't remember when I first cooked an octopus, but I don't think I have forgotten a single one that i have eaten in Spain or Greece. But, when I returned home and tried to reproduce it, my version just never seemed to taste as good.
I gave up for a while, but when Maggie Beer arrived on Masterchef and set us an octopus challenge, I had little choice but to try again. My recipe that day isn't worth repeating, but then neither was anyone else's. After everyone pretty much failed, we returned home and decided we needed to figure it out once and for all.
Jaime and I spent an entire evening cooking 4 of them using all sots of different techniques. Several worked quite well, but this was definitely my favourite method in terms of texture and taste. Thankfully it is one of the simpler methods and gives a fantastic result. Don't hold back on the heat, you need to get the pot really hot and then resist the urge to mess with it while it is doing its thing. Do that and you will be well on your way to conquering this delicious dish.
For some extra flavour and texture you can optionally grill the cooked octopus on a charcoal BBQ, but it isn't essential.
Heat a large heavy pot with a lid over a high heat until very hot. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and then carefully add the octopus (it will spit when it hits the hot oil). Immediately place on the lid and reduce the heat to medium low. The octopus will give up a lot of juice and will provide enough moisture to cook it perfectly without adding anything else.
Allow the octopus to braise untouched in its own juices for 45-50 minutes. Check the thickest part is tender, a knife should easily penetrate it just like a cooked potato. Remove the octopus and allow to cool.
If your octopus doesn't come tenderised - the classic way is to throw hard onto the rocks 40 times and then wash it. Alternatively giving it a good bash with a rolling pin or freeze it and then thaw it.