how to prepare octopus

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.

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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

  1. To prepare the octopus: take the octopus and with a sharp knife, make an incision along the bag.
  2. Remove the eyes and the rostrum (beak).
  3. 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.
  4. Rinse the octopus very well under running water, being careful to remove any residual sand or other impurities from the tentacles.
  5. 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.
  6. The octopus should be firm when cooked so pierce with a fork to check for tenderness.
  7. Let octopus cool in the cooking water.
  8. To store, drain it well and store in an airtight container in the fridge. The octopus can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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