Saturday, 6 July 2013

16 Legs Under the Sea

Polpo allo Siciliano con Couscous
Sicilian-Styled Octopus with Couscous

Oh yes- 16 legs indeed! Well... tentacles I suppose, to be perfectly accurate! But yes- 16 of them all the same! Imagine my surprise when I thawed out the frozen octopus I was going to have for supper, only to discover that "it" was actually a "they" and that there were two, smaller octopi in the bag instead... who knew?!?!

But as ZZ Top once said- "we got legs- and know how to use them"- well so do I!
In keeping with the glorious, Summery weather (at long last!), I decided to prepare them in a simple, speedy and Sicilian kinda way. With a little bit of steam, a little bit of spice and a little bit of Sicilian savour, I whipped this little beauty of a supper up in just 30 minutes. I know I always get you with the quick and easy preparations- lol! Read on and enjoy!

First things first- the octopus needed to thaw in my case- if you have fresh octopus... well good for you! I cut away the tentacles and then pressed out the "beak" (eew!) and the "comb" out of the upper part of the octopus. I am kidding of course and it is clean, easy and no problem at all. I do discard the section between those 2 parts, where the eyes are located- ugh! Yes, I did shudder a little there, haha! But seriously, it is very easy to do, and if you DO buy fresh, I am sure your fishmonger will do it for you in a heartbeat.

I rinsed it off well and then popped it into my steamer for just 10 minutes, which was plenty for this small sized octopus, which was little more than a handful. A full sized octopus would take between 30-40 minutes to be steamed completely, but I just wanted to have this partly cooked before frying it, to make sure it remained tender... no one wants to be chewing on a fish-flavored tire inner-tube after all!

Whilst the octopus steamed, I finely diced 1 clove of garlic, an inch or so of ginger and popped these into a non-stick pan with a nice splash of olive oil. Once they began to sizzle, I added the octopus, which I had cut into rings and slices, along with a couple of stalks of thyme. I stir-fried the octopus together for 2-3 minutes and then added the olives and capers. I seasoned  with salt and pepper and deglazed the pan with a good splash of Sambuca.

I let the liquid reduce down and then added 3-4 cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters and a little finely chopped basil and mint- just enough to make all of the flavors "pop!" and taste fantastic! I added a little lemon juice to freshen those flavors op nicely and that was it- after 4-5 minutes at a nice high temperature, the octopus was crispy and delicious and full of flavor... you're going to love it! 

I served it up on a simple couscous, flavored with salt, pepper, lemon and parsley, which was a nice contrast to the strong flavors of the octopus. Quick, simple and tasty, with just a final sprinkle of thyme and a few leaves of parsley as a garnish, supper was ready and so was I! And if you want to know how it tasted- just give it a try!

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