Saturday, 13 October 2012

Release the Kraken!

Pulpo alla Griglia con Crema di Patate al Limone e Timo
Grilled Pulpo on Lemon & Thyme Mashed Potatoes

Yes, this fellow was a monster alright- but a delicious and beautiful one at that! So big in fact, that all I took home from the fishmongers of this "octopod", was a "tripod" :-) But three of these yummy tentacles made for a more than ample and delicious supper- and my first encounter with cooking octopus was the challenge of the evening!

This meal was a re-creation of one of the tastiest dishes I had the pleasure of enjoying on my recent trip to Sicily. At the port of Syracusa, in the hot midday sun, with a chilled white wine, this was a revelation and an unforgettable treat! Well- it was until I made my own version of it this evening- which in all due modesty was probably a little better still! And this is how I made it!

My main fear in cooking the octopus, is that it would turn to rubber- I am sure we have all tried chewing bicycle-inner-tube-like octopus at some point or other! So I read up a little on how to prepare it and found that people say that it is always better to steam the octopus rather than to boil it... so that is what I did!

I popped it into my steamer, looking grey and rather ugly... and let it sit and do its thing for 45 minutes. Imagine my joy when I finally took off the lid to discover this lovely, purple colored, tender and transformed treat! The whole time I had been fretting over how to make it look attractive for you all- and for me as well!

I rinsed it under a cold tap and gently rubbed off the purple skin... but I didn't overdo it- just the stuff that had loosened-up during cooking. The remaining color is very attractive I think!

I heated up my grill pan until it was very, very hot and added a splash of olive oil, some chopped garlic, and the octopus, which I had cut into bite-sized chunks. I wanted it to become crispy and toasted on the outside and remain juicy and soft inside and the only way to do that is to give it a blast of extreme heat for a short time... so that is what I did! Make sure to turn off your smoke alarms! I seasoned with salt and pepper and gave it a good squeeze of lemon juice as well as a splash of white wine vinegar. One last drizzle of olive oil and a generous sprinkle of finely chopped parsley and hey presto! Dinner was ready!

I served it up on a bed of creamy mashed potato, which I seasoned with a little grated lemon zest, a squeeze of lemon juice, a hint of nutmeg and of course salt and pepper. I mashed the potatoes up with warm milk that I had boiled-up with a clove of garlic to give it a nice, gentle perfume. But I then drizzled it with a little olive oil rather than adding butter, to keep the flavors more mediterranean... as well as a sprinkle of fresh thyme to add an extra "zing!" to the whole affair... wow!

Please try this out some time as I know you are going to love it as much as I did! And quite possibly even more!


  1. Wow, this looks incredible! I love octopus, although it is not very easy to find Stateside. And the way you've made it: soft on the inside, crispy on the outside—sounds divine. And then you added one of my favorite comfort foods of all time, mashed potatoes…. This one is just too good!

  2. Glad you like it Frank! This really was a treat and the secret seems to be to steam and not boil- hope you can find some and give it a go! Saluti da Francesco!