Where once I would have always chosen sea bass, a red snapper or another whole fish, since marrying into a beautiful Greek family my everyday seafood has become kalamari, anchovies, sardines, whiting, mussels and for extra special days, octopus.
Some people shy away from cooking or eating octopus, but it really is one of the most delicious types of seafood. And it is incredibly easy to cook. I was given this recipe for oven baked octopus on my last trip to Lefkada, after a day spent swimming at spectacular Kathisma beach. I made it that evening and it was the best kind of a summer holiday food. This recipe was just so simple and Greece produces such incredible produce, that I thought this recipe would be just that - holiday food, a memory not able to recaptured in quite the same way at home. But I have been pleasantly surprised! This recipe worked just as well at home here in Sydney and works every time. It really is the easiest way to cook octopus - no complicated method, ingredients or husband-tending-to-a-BBQ required.
This recipe creates just the right octopus texture, slightly chewy but not overly so and tender, with just a little bit of crunch from the thinnest ends of the tentecales. For a hot summers evening, pair this dish with a classic Greek horiatiki salad, lots of bread and a good red wine - the same you used in the dish.
This is also a guilt free dish to enjoy if you are passionate about sustainable seafood. The brilliant website, Good Fish Bad Fish says:
AMCS list octopus from Australian fisheries as 'BETTER CHOICE', but lists imported octopus as 'SAY NO'.
Being resilient and sustainable, we consider octopus a GFBF Favourite!"
Baked octopus with potatoes (Χταπόδι φούρνου με πατάτες)
1 medium octopus, cleaned (ask your fishmonger or watch this clip)
1/2 kilo small baby potatoes, peeled and cut into similar sized pieces
1 head of garlic (or a few smaller whole bulbs)
1 cup light red wine
3/4 cup olive oil
Pinch of salt and ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 200C (180C for fan forced oven). Place the cleaned octopus in a the middle of a baking pan and place the potatoes and garlic cloves around it. Dust the octopus with lots and lots of rigani, freshly ground black pepper and just a pinch of sea salt. Pour over the the olive oil and red wine and cover tightly with foil. Bake for around 1 hour and 15 minutes - or until the octopus is tender. Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes to crisp up the potatoes.
Note: when you remove the foil, you may need to remove some liquid from the pan to crisp up the potatoes. Although it really depends on the octopus used as to how much liquid it actually releases.