Octopus is a staple of Greek island coastal cooking and you will often see little mesh-fronted boxes outside restaurants along the harbour, filled with octopus drying in the breeze. Drying them for a couple of days tenderises the meat, and the wire-framed boxes prevent local cats from making a feast of them. Octopus needs a long slow boil before char-grilling, otherwise it will be tough.
Hint: avoid the lemon. All you need is extra virgin olive oil.
- 1 raw octopus, defrosted if frozen, arms only; splash olive oil, for cooking
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, for dressing
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon dried greek oregano
- salt, if needed
- Place the octopus arms in a large saucepan with a lid, turn the heat to high and bring to the boil without any added liquid, as it will release plenty of its own. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour (you could add peppercorns, fennel seeds or coriander seeds if you fancy). Remove it from the liquid, drain and pat dry with paper towels.
- Get a griddle pan hot over a high heat and add a splash of olive oil to grease the pan and the octopus. When charred all over, slice each piece on the diagonal into pieces about 5 mm thick.
- Whisk together the extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, black pepper and Greek oregano and use this to lightly dress the octopus. Taste to see if the dish needs a little salt. Serve warm or cool.