Octonoodle: Lucian spaghetti and octopus recipe
STEPS 7 INGREDIENTS 9 TIME 50-60 MINS
Called spaghetti con polpo in Italian, this dish follows the style they use in the waterfront Santa Lucia district of Naples (in the South of Italy).
It combines an olive and caper based puttanesca-style sauce with a soft and carefully cooked baby octopus (or 'moscardino') to create a strong-flavored, sturdy-textured dish that frutti di mare fans will just love.
Just one diplomatic word of warning before we start... if you are at all squeamish about prepping dead beasties, get someone with a sturdier stomach to carry out Step 3's octo-scrubbery (or if there's no-one around consider clicking through to my other seafood pasta recipes as I can't imagine you'll enjoy tasks like chopping out the eyes!).
If you've enjoyed other octopus or other squid-textured seafood dishes in the past though, this really is the page for you. So let's get right to it...
4 baby octopuses
13 black pitted (de-stoned) olives
2 tablespoons/50g capers
6 fresh plum (oval) tomatoes or one 400g/14oz can
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley leaves
1 large garlic clove
Extra virgin olive oil
STEP 1 - If using fresh tomatoes, place in a large bowl and cover with boiling water.
- Leave them to soak for 10 mins, then carefully drain away the water, rinse under cold tab, and peel off their skins with your fingers.
STEP 2 - Now a little ingredient preparation (do this while the toms are soaking to save time):
- Peel the garlic clove and remove its ends.
- Remove the olive pips (if not 'pre-pitted) and chop olives into halves.
- Rinse the salt from the capers.
- Rinse and roughly tear the parsley leaves.
STEP 3 - Now for the real prep... cleaning our octopuses! ????
- Under a cold running tab, first pull off any black outer skin sections with your fingers. (A good place to start tearing these from is the webbing between the top of the legs.) You want to try and remove any black sections so the creature is totally clean.
- As part of this, also turn the head inside out and clean that surface area too.
- Turn it upside down, and at the center of all the legs you'll find a harder central 'tooth' (that's the mouth you see). Remove this tooth.
- Finally, find the black eye, squeeze underneath this and chop it out using scissors.
- Repeat this process with your remaining octopuses.
STEP 4 - Now, back to the tomatoes. Pop these into a dish (if using canned, just the toms not the juice) and chop them roughly, removing any hard end parts.
- Drop 75% of the parsley into these toms too (the remainder we'll use for garnish).
Now the prep is done, our cooking begins...
STEP 5 - Drop 85ml or 5.5 tablespoons of olive oil into a large pan along with the peeled garlic clove.
(Got a large pressure cooker? Use this instead of a normal pan and in Step 6 you can cook the octopus for 5 mins instead of 15/20!)
- Pop the heat on medium and when the clove starts to sizzle, remove this (it just flavors the oil) and drop in the olives and capers.
- Now remove the pan from the heat for 3-4 mins. This will cool the oil and avoid spitting reaction madness when we drop in the toms.
- Add the toms and a heaped teaspoon of salt.
- Pop back on a medium heat hob, stir through and cover for 5-6 mins.
STEP 6 - Now we lower in each octopus. But wait! We have to do this slowly and carefully, or else we'll shock the octopus flesh and cause it to harden (not nice).
- So... grab your first beastie and slowly lower the end of its legs into the sauce. Then pull it back out, slowly lower a big further in and so on (a little like getting into a really hot bath!).
Each time the legs will curl up a little more. When all the legs are curled down to the fat ends, you can slowly lower in the body.
Here's a quick video example:
- Repeat with each octopus.
- Thoroughly mix the seafood and sauce then cover the pan.
- We will cook this on a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for roughly 15-20 minutes. When you can slip a knife or other metal point easily through the flesh of the octopus' head, it is soft enough.
- When you reach this stage, remove the lid and simmer a couple of mins more to remove some of the liquidity (which the octopus leak when cooked).
STEP 7 - While the octopus is cooking if you like, or after it's done, cook up your spaghetti as per its packets' timings in a large pan full of boiling, well salted water. Drain and we're done!
To serve: spoon your pasta into the bowls, add a good portion of sauce on top, then a whole octopus and garnish with a couple of parsley leaves.
Enjoyed this Lucian octopus recipe?
Then why not try...
• 'Your Choice' seafood pasta recipe
• Reader Heidi's salmon pasta recipe
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