Wrap your arms around Octopus Spaghetti this weekend
Giorgio Locatelli’s Octipus Spaghetti
Walking past the fish stall in Galway yesterday I spotted some baby octopus on display. I don’t know if it was a little hankering, on a cod February day for a warmer Mediterranean climate or a recipe in the back of my mind for stuffed squid, what ever it was I decided to purchase.
When I got it home and showed it to the kids it was met with faces that were a mix of she’s lost the plot, that looks gross and your not going to make us eat that for dinner!
They have had it before, but trying something on holiday, when you walk off the beach and into a restaurant sandy and barefoot with the smell of octopus charring on the grill, right place, right time and looking at a flaccid dead one at home on a Friday night does not really have the same effect. My conundrum was, how to fit this in to a family dinner that everyone would eat.
They had a bit of fun just looking at its ridiculous shape, tentacles and face, well eyes, it sort of has no face. Then they realised that the suckers still worked, maybe not with quite as much suction as they do in the sea but enough for squeals of excitement and go on, do it , do it, do its! Luckily the octopus needs to be banged about a bit to make tender and is not a delicate piece of fish as this went on for quite some time.
Next to the cleaning, out pops a little, but fully intact, fish. More squeals and fun and awe and disgust!
So I went to Giorgio Locotelli for advice and advice he did give. He has a friend who advised him that he should not boil it as Giorgio had been doing for most of his life, but rather let it cook in its own juices. We decided to make his Octopus Spaghetti. Spaghetti being a pretty fool proof way of getting anything into our kids.
It was too late to start it for dinner that night so we decided they could have it the following night. Iseult is still looking at me with some disbelief.
Just before bed they were involved in the tenderising process, basically after it is cleaned and rinced well under running water, you lay it out on a tea towel , fold it over and beat the day lights out of it with a rolling pin for about 3 minutes. More fun, little did I know we would get such amusement out of some octopus.
Anyway, after a story-time and lights out I set to cooking my octopus.
When I try a new recipe, I usually do it on my own first, unless I can enlist the help of my eldest to read the recipe to me as I cook. This is a nice way to get them to help , they are learning and I am reaping the benefits!!
You could use frozen octopus for this in which case you can skip the tenderising process as the freezer does this for you.
Giorgio Locotelli’s Octopus Spaghetti
1 octopus, cleaned (I used about 6 baby octopus)
1 large chilli split in half
1 large handful of flat leaf parsley plus 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
3 whole cloves of garlic
6 tbsp. Olive oil
2 tbsp. tomato passata
500g dried spaghetti
After it has been cleaned (best done by your fish monger), well rinsed, to get rid of the excess salt, and tenderised it is ready to cook.
Put the chilli, garlic, 1 large handful of parsley and half the olive oil in a casserole pot. Add the octopus, no seasoning necessary as the octopus will still be salty enough, cover and simmer for about 1 hour ( a little less if its baby octopus ) stirring every 5-10 minutes.
Remove the octopus from the pot, reserve the cooking juices, and cut into pieces. Return the octopus to the cooking liquid and allow to cool, keep in the fridge if you do not want to use immediately.
When you are ready to eat, cook the passata as Giorgio says for 1 minute less than the packet instructs.
While the passata is cooking, heat the rest of the olive oil on a pan, add the tomato passata, extra chilli if you like and the octopus and heat through.
Drain the spaghetti, reserving a little of the cooking water.
Add the spaghetti to the octopus on the pan, toss around and mix through adding a little of the reserved cooking water to thicken the sauce if necessary. Sprinkle in the chopped parsley, a small squeeze of lemon is nice, and serve.
Giorgio’s friend was absolutely right; in cooking the octopus in its own juices, it was tender and delicious with masses of flavour. The kids got a kick out of eating it although Iseult is still a bit sceptical, but then she usually is!
This recipe has been adapted from Giorgio Locatelli’s book “Made In Italy”