One of the things I love most is to eat fish. When I lived in Trieste I used to buy fish at the local fishmonger twice a week or even more often. A steamed bream with a glass of white wine was one of my favourite dinners, alone or even better with a friend. We recently moved to Oxford and we discovered a rather good fishmonger in the Covered Market, a big improvement from Southampton. Now every time we go past the fishmonger we are irresistibly attracted and are unable to refrain from buying some fish. So expect lots of fish recipes in the near future.
This recipe is typical of Italy and it is quite common especially in the north east. We followed a recipe from the Cucchiaio d’Argento cookbook which is a must-have for any serious Italian cook. There is also a translated English version (Silver spoon), highly recommended. The octopus is not difficult to prepare but there are some steps which must be followed to make it soft and delicious. First, as soon it has been fished it should be beaten and then it must be cooked slowly in a deep pan with the lid on. The scene of a fisherman beating an octopus on a rock under a hot summer sun is so Italian… something that you cannot have here!
This salad is perfect for every season, you can serve it slightly warm in the winter or cold in the summer. Here we used new potatoes so we left the peel on, otherwise it is better to peel the potatoes after you cooked them.
OCTOPUS AND POTATO SALAD
1 kg octopus
4 potatoes (about 500 g)
extra-virgin olive oil
Clean the octopus, remove the eyes, the “mouth” and the little bladder. It is probably best if you ask the fishmonger to clean it for you, as we did. Bring enough water to completely cover the octopus to the boil in a deep pan and add one tablespoon of salt. Put the octopus in the pan and cover with the lid. Cook on low heat for at least forty minutes, or until tender. Switch off the heat and leave the octopus in the pan to cool.
In the meantime bring some water to the boil in another pan, add some salt and cook the potatoes. When they are ready cut them into small cubes and put them in a salad bowl. Spray with some white wine, so they won’t absorb to much olive oil.
Take the octopus from the pan and remove the skin, it should be very easy. Chop it in small pieces and add them to the potatoes in the bowl. Season with black pepper, salt, extra-virgin olive oil and rosemary. Buon appetito.
Note: the remaining wine, most of it, can be enjoyed for dinner.