How Italians prepare octopus: While on the island of Ponza, some years ago, I was fortunate enough to watch Maurizio, a local restaurateur, as he prepared freshly caught octopus.
Most often, octopus is served as an antipasto under oil with lemon juice, a little garlic, fresh parsley and salt. Very simply.
How Italians prepare octopus
A 3lb octopus will serve between 4 – 6 people.
For the stock (optional)
If you are not boiling your octopus in a stock, ensure that you do add salt to the water. You will need to add enough salt to taste. Be careful not to over-salt the water.
- 1 Carrot, peeled
- 1 Onions, peeled
- 6 Juniper berries
- 4 Black peppercorns
- Salt up to taste
- 1 Stick celery
- 2 Bay leaves (fresh if possible
How to clean and cook octopus
- To prepare the octopus: take the octopus and with a sharp knife, make an incision along the bag.
- Remove the eyes and the rostrum (beak).
- Empty the inside of the bag and, if you are dealing with a larger octopus, soften the meat by beating it lightly with a meat tenderizer.
- Rinse the octopus very well under running water, being careful to remove any residual sand or other impurities from the tentacles.
- Fill a large pot 3/4 full of lightly salted, cold water, enough to just cover the octopus. Bring the water to a simmer and adjust the heat to keep it at a low simmer for 1 hour – it will get foamy.
- NOTES: You can, add peeled carrot, onion, celery stalks, bay leaves, juniper berries and peppercorns to create a stock (see above). If you want the tentacles curled, dip these alone in a separate saucepan of boiling water, 4 – 5 times.
- The octopus should be firm when cooked so pierce with a fork to check for tenderness.
- Let octopus cool in the cooking water.
- To store, drain it well and store in an airtight container in the fridge. The octopus can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.