When I was a child, my dad would go fishing off the basalt shelves of Bass Strait. I remember him pulling his hand out of the water with a powerful octopus wrapped around his arm. Knowing how much it took to pull the creature off, it doesn’t surprise me how strong and tough octopus can be. But I have a foolproof method for cooking octopus and it begins with using frozen tentacles, if you can find them. During freezing, the ice crystals break apart the cell walls and this makes the octopus more tender. The result in this recipe is little morsels of surprisingly sweet, warm octopus, and potato, dusted with Spanish paprika.
To cook the octopus, bring a large saucepan of unsalted water to the boil. Meanwhile, wash the octopus under cold running water. When the water is rapidly boiling, plunge the octopus in the water for 15 seconds then remove. Allow the water to boil again then repeat four times, allowing the water to reach boiling point between each immersion.
On the last immersion, leave the octopus in the pan and reduce the heat to barely a simmer. Cook for 30–40 minutes, or until tender. The outside pink layer should still be intact. Remove the octopus from the pan and set aside to cool.
Increase the heat to high and bring the cooking water to the boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 30 minutes, or until tender. Remove from the pan and leave until cool enough to handle then peel.
Using a sharp knife slice the octopus tentacles into 1 cm (½ inch) discs. Slice the potatoes into similar sized pieces. Arrange the potato on four to six small serving plates. Cover the potato with the octopus. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes, drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkle with the paprika and parsley. Serve immediately.
© 2007 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.