Arroz con Pulpo

Octopus Paella

banner

This is the essence of simplicity and contrast. The sweetness of the octopus flesh is a foil for the earthiness of the rice. The lovely rich, soft gelatinous texture of the octopus is also a counterpoint for the rice’s starchiness.

This is the antithesis of over-accessorised paella, which is loaded with chorizo and shellfish. It’s just octopus, rice, garlic, sofrito and paprika. Because of its textural qualities, this dish is also well worth cooking simply to explore wine matching possibilities. Friends of mine tried this with albariño, arneis, Australian chenin blanc and a little Pouilly Fume. They couldn’t make up their minds, so met again a week later to try again.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) octopus tentacles (about 2 or 3 tentacles), frozen, thawed and drained (see Note)
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 250 g (9 oz/1 cup) sofrito
  • 400 g (14 oz) Calasparra rice
  • 1 handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Spanish sweet paprika
  • sea salt flakes, to sprinkle

Method

To cook the octopus, bring a large saucepan of unsalted water to the boil. Meanwhile, rinse the octopus under cold running water. When the water is rapidly boiling, plunge the octopus in for 15 seconds then remove. Allow the water to boil again then repeat the process four times, allowing the water to reach the boil again between each plunge. After the last plunge reduce the heat and leave the octopus on a very low, slow simmer for 30–40 minutes. The octopus should be tender and the outside pink layer still intact. Carefully remove the octopus from the water, allow to cool, drain and cut into 1 cm (½ inch) slices. Reserve approximately 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) of the octopus stock over low heat, as it will be used to make the paella.

Heat the olive oil in a 34 cm (13½ inch) paella pan or large, deep, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the garlic for 30 seconds then add the sofrito and cook for a further minute. Reduce the heat to low–medium.

Add the rice and mix to coat the rice with the sauce. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the rice just starts to become translucent. Gradually stir in the reserved octopus stock and increase the heat to medium. From this point onwards, do not stir the paella, as a the socorat (crust) needs to form on the bottom of the pan. If the flame or element doesn’t cover the base of the pan, move the pan around during cooking to allow the paella to cook evenly. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the rice has swollen just a little. Reduce the heat to low–medium and arrange the octopus slices around the top of the paella. Sprinkle with the parsley and paprika.

Cook for a further 10 minutes then increase the heat to high for 1 minute to form a crust on the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat, cover with a clean tea towel (dish towel) and allow to rest. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and serve warm.

Loading
Loading
Loading