Pickled octopus is one of the most common meze, served with ouzo in tavernas all over Greece. It is also something served regularly on the table in Greek homes - simple but delicious fare.
I love to keep a jar of this meze in the fridge. Along with a little plate of cheese, olives and a little sausage - it makes for the perfect instant meze if you have surprise guests. Just don't forget to serve with some ouzo on ice.
Prepared with just a few ingredients, the success of this dish depends pretty much upon the quality of the octopus. In Australia, some of the best octopus comes from South Australia, where it has been caught after feasting on lobster and crab pots. Wherever your octopus comes from, it needs careful cooking to have that sweet, succulent, slightly chewy texture. The octopus should be cooked for around 45-60 minutes, any longer and it will become gelatinous and mushy - which is no good for pickling.
Dried Greek rigani and thyme are both perfect partners for the rich flavour of the octopus. I am delighted to be using the beautiful organic thyme from Homer St. The organic thyme is wonderfully pungent, hand picked along the Greek Pindos Mountains.
Htapodi toursi, pickled octopus with organic thyme (χταπόδι τουρσί)
1 octopus, about 1.5 kg
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cup Greek olive oil
3/4 cup of Greek wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried Greek rigani
1 tsp. dried organic wild thyme
A pinch of ground Spanish paprika
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 – 2 sterilized jars
1. To clean the octopus, pull off the tentacles and remove the intestines and ink sac. Cut out the eyes and beak. Remove the skin and rinse well.
2. Place the body and tentacles of the octopus in a large saucepan without any liquid. Cover and simmer the octopus in its own juices over low heat until it turns deep pink and is tender (about 45–60 minutes).
3. Drain the octopus. When cool enough to handle, cut the head and tentacles into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl.
4. Add the Greek wine vinegar into a small pot and add bring to the boil over medium heat. Turn the heat off, add the garlic, thyme, rigani, paprika and olive oil and stir well to combine.
5. Place pieces of octopus in the jars and then pour the dressing into the jars (ensure the octopus is covered). Leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 12 hours before using. Stir occasionally. Store in your fridge for up to 1 month.
6. To serve, lift the octopus out of the marinade, pile into a dish and garnish with lemon wedges and plenty of finely chopped parsley (I like to stir this through before serving). Don't worry if the marinade seems a little thick after it has been in the fridge. It will become more liquid when the oil returns to room temperature.