Cooking octopus can be an intimidating yet thrilling undertaking. If it's your first time preparing it, I suggest doing it alone, if for no other reason than if you are grossed out mid-way (it can and has happened), you can abandon the attempt, eat PB + J and there will be no witnesses to your defeat. When cooked right, octopus is so tasty, you will find yourself Googling its health benefits because you want to eat it ALL the time. Seriously.
Octopus - the tentacles of 1 small octopus, cut ideally by your fish market guy/gal (about 4 pounds)
8 cups of water
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups white wine
1/2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped 1⁄2 cup olive oil
ground salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp oregano
Cous Cous - 1 cup of loose cous cous
1 1⁄2 cups water
pinch of salt
Ok, so how to tackle the tentacles? Place your cleaned and cut pieces into a pot with about 4 cups of water. Old wives tales suggest throwing in a cork, so if you have one lying around (likely from the bottle of wine you'll consume for liquid courage), well, toss it in. Bring to a boil, cover, then let simmer for about 45 minutes. Check for tenderness with a fork and take off heat. It's best to let the octopus slowly come down to room temperature, so I let out about half the water remaining in the pot, then allow the octopus to continue to sit in the steam. Technically, it takes about an hour for the octopus to cook, so by keeping it in the water until you are ready to toss in the sauce pan you are allowing it to continue to cook without the risk of overcooking.
While the octopus sits in the pot, heat up a sauce pan and add the olive oil. Follow by adding the garlic and onion. Stir until tender, then add the red pepper and white wine. Next, strain the octopus and toss into the saute. The oil and wine will be absorbed by the octopus. Yum. With medium heat, now add the remaining ingredients, but save a bit of lemon juice and parsley for when the dish is plated with the cous cous. Let saute for about another 3-5 minutes then remove pan from heat. As your octopus is sauteing , you can cook your cous cous. This only takes about 3 minutes. Simply cook it like rice – bring water to a boil, add cous cous and let simmer. Presto!
To the Table:
I like to plate the octopus over the cous cous so the oils and wine/juice liquids can be soaked up. Then sprinkle the remaining bit of parsley and lemon juice over the dish. Cous cous fluffs up and out and paired with a side salad or cold soup (like cucumber yogurt) can easily serve a small family. Too much (maybe in your house) - no fretting, it does refrigerate well and taste great as a left-over. Warning, the cous cous should be eaten within three days and I don't encourage freezing this dish.
Enjoy! xo Gigi