People tend to shy away from cooking 'the beast', although it is extremely easy. Cooked properly, octopus is not only nutritious but also fabulous in taste and texture, says Michel Roux Jr.
Roasted cctopus salad with chilli mayonnaise
For the mayonnaise:
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- Juice of half a lemon
- 250ml sunflower / vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. sweet chilli sauce
- A pinch of salt and pepper
For the salad:
- 3 small gem lettuce hearts
- 2 green chillies (or baby green peppers)
- 250g new potatoes
- ½ a cup of water
- 2 large spring onions cut in half
- 1 thinly sliced spring onion
- 1 1/2 tbsp. butter
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- A pinch of salt and pepper
Cooking the Octopus:
- 1 whole octopus (approx. 2 kg) it will reduce considerably in size once cooked
- 1 roughly chopped carrot
- 1 roughly chopped white onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 peppercorns
- 1 tbsp. rock salt
- First, cut the head off the octopus including the beak and remove any innards.
- In a large casserole dish, add all the ingredients other than the octopus and bring to the boil.
- Once boiling, add the octopus and simmer for 90 minutes depending on the size of the octopus, until tender. Do check regularly with the help of a knife; once you can easily cut through the flesh strain the octopus and leave overnight in the fridge.
- If making the mayonnaise by hand, place the egg yolk in a large bowl.
- Add the mustard and lemon juice and whisk in the oil drip by drip until all is well blended in. After a few minutes the sauce will emulsify and thicken. Season to taste with condiments and add the sweet chili sauce.
- Wash and cut in half the new potatoes. In a large enough pan to fit all the halved potatoes add 2 tbsp. olive oil and set to a medium heat. Spread out the potatoes, flesh down, and let colour for 5 minutes. Once they have a nice caramelised brown colour pour in the water and cover the pan with a lid. The steam will cook the potatoes throughout.
- Once the water has completely evaporated (approx. 8 minutes) season the potatoes with salt and pepper and leave to one side.
- Wash and halve the large spring onion before pan-searing in a lightly oiled pan. Repeat the process with the green chillies after removing the seeds (be careful to wash your hands regularly when touching chillies). Once both onions and chillies are tender, remove from the heat and set aside with the potatoes.
- Wash and cut the gem lettuce hearts in quarters. Pan sear them for a few minutes on each side in a tsp. butter. The salad should not be ‘cooked’ just charred for extra taste.
Lastly, peel any excess skin off the octopus and slice before pan-roasting in a tbsp. butter. Once the octopus is a beautiful brown, caramelised, colour remove from the pan.
- Garnish your plates with the potatoes and gem hearts and spring after mixing them with a tbsp. mayonnaise and sprinkle the finely sliced spring onion on top.
Syrah works wonderfully well to elevate the chard and pan-roasted taste of this vibrant salad. The 2004 Vacqueyras, Famille Perrin, Les Christins is a rustic yet very approachable wine from the Southern Rhône region. This wine is not overly tannic or too aggressive so it won’t overpower the delicacy of the octopus.
As an alternative, why not try a Spanish Manzanilla “La Guita” Hijos de Rainera Perez Marin. This dry sherry, 100% Palomino, can handle bold flavours such as chillies and spring onions. This particular sherry, produced in Sanlucar de Barrameda, also has a delicate, salty tang which is perfect for the salinity of our octopus.
For a special occasion, or simply to elevate this tasty salad I suggest a 2010 Domaine Ferraton, Hermitage Blanc, les Miaux. This full bodied white wine from the Rhône region is dominated by notes of honey therefore bringing the perfect amount of sweetness to this robust dish.
Wines to drink with roasted octopus salad with chilli mayonnaise by Michel Roux Jr.
Famille Perrin, Les Christins, Vacqueyras, 2004
This unctuous red is full of fleshy and fruity flavours with layers of blackberry and currants. Deep in flavour it works perfectly with meaty dishes such as octopus.
RRP: £12.50 Millisema, $27.99 Wine.com
Hijos de Rainera Perez Marin, La Guita, Manzanilla NV
This beautifully lemon gold wine is saline and floral with hints of almond, dried fruit and crystallised fruit. Zesty and fresh it drinks wonderfully with the fleshiness of the octopus and creaminess of the mayonnaise.
RRP: £9.95 Great Western Wine, $14.99 K&L Wines
Hermitage Blanc, Les Miaux, Domaine Ferraton, 2010
A beautiful earthy gold colour, this white has sweet notes of pear, honey and quince which work beautifully with the heat of the chili mayonnaise.
RRP: £45.00 Berry Bros and Rudd