Saturday, 3 August 2013

The Tale of the Tasty Tripod

Polpo, Ceci, Cicoria, Pomodoro Seccho, Origano & Galangal
Octopus, Chick Peas, Chicory, Sun-Dried Tomato, Oregano & Galangal

Whilst at the market hall today, I dropped by on a fellow Sicilian, who also goes by the name of Francesco- and who also happens to be from the same town as my parents back in the Old Country! Such coincidences need to be celebrated!

It was all hugs, slaps on the back, lots of laughs and fun until it came to choosing an octopus to make supper with. Of course, size DOES matter in certain things- and octopus IS one of those things! They all looked so wonderful, fresh and delicious, but simply too much to be cooked in one go... and so we decided to portion the little devil- which left me with 3 thick and juicy tentacles to make my Summer Supper with!

I prepared this in the usual way, by steaming the octopus first and then frying it and crisping it up at the end. So into a saucepan the 3 tentacles went, on a steam rack and with the lid on, for around an hour... better to be safe than sorry with these thicker and more delicious pieces.  Once the octopus was done, I drained it off and rinsed it with cold water, then let it drip dry whilst I prepared the other ingredients.

For this nice, large portion, I used a half-can of chick peas, about a 2" slice of galangal, finely chopped, a couple of sun-dried cherry tomatoes, parsley, oregano and of course the wild chicory I served this up on. I rinsed the chicory leaves well as they tend to be a bit sandy, patted them dry on a kitchen towel and then drizzled them lightly with olive oil.

So now I had all of my prep-work done and I could get busy with the octopus, which I cut into chunks and then sautéed in a little olive oil and crushed garlic for 2-3 minutes. I then added the galangal, chick peas, fennel seed and sun-dried tomatoes and stirred everything together, with the heat set to maximum ;-)

After 2-3 minutes, things were starting to become nice and brown, so I deglazed the pan with a splash of Sambuca, along with the juice of 1 lemon and got stirring! I added the finely chopped parsley and oregano, a last seasoning of salt, pepper and drop or two (or maybe 3 ;-) ) of green Tabasco. 

Last but not least, I added a generous pinch of finely sliced lemon peel, made sure all of the ingredients were nicely dressed with the juices and let it cool off for a minute or two, so that it wouldn't make the chicoree wilt. But I didn't wait all that long... I was hungry!

This was just a slight twist on the typical seafood salad you might get served up in Sicily and was indeed filled with Sicilian flavors- the oregano making it tangy and exciting and the fennel seed making it more complex in flavor. Combine that with the citrus and ginger flavor of the galangal and the anise note of the Sambuca and you have got a winner, right there on your plate! 

Just one hint- maybe you should take all 8 tentacles when you go to buy your octopus... it was SO delicious!

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