Poulpes Provençale

Octopus Cooked in a Tomato and White Wine Sauce

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • For



Appears in

The Cuisine of the Sun

By Mireille Johnston

Published 1990

  • About

There is an unfortunate prejudice in the United States against serving squid and octopus. Along the Mediterranean coast and in the Orient they are considered delicacies. It would surprise many to know that much of the canned “lobster” sold in France is rumored to be octopus. In any case, le homard du pauvre is simply delicious. It should be served with a robust dry white wine.


  • 2 pounds fresh octopus
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • cup cognac
  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped
  • 5 large tomatoes, chopped
  • bouquet garni
  • a pinch of Spanish saffron (not the powdered kind) or curry
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced


Wash the octopus under running water. Make sure the fish dealer has removed the ends of the tentacles, eyes, ink bag, and intestines. Soak the octopus for 3 hours in cold water, changing the water twice.

Bring the water to a boil in a large pot and scald the octopus in it three times, counting to three each time. Then cut the octopus into -inch cubes with a large knife or kitchen shears and dry thoroughly.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy skillet, add the octopus, and toss for a few minutes. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer slowly for 30 minutes. Put the octopus in a bowl.

Pour the cognac into the skillet, swishing it around, and scrape the bottom of the pan. Pour this liquid over the octopus in the bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil to the skillet and gently cook the onions and tomatoes for 15 minutes. Add the octopus with its juice, the bouquet garni, saffron (or curry), crushed garlic, thyme, wine, and salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour, or until tender. Remove the octopus from the sauce.

Sprinkle the octopus with parsley and minced garlic and put it in the center of a crown of rice. Serve the sauce separately in a bowl.