Although it may look a little foreboding, don’t be intimidated by cooking octopus; it’s mostly a hands-off process. With a little time and patience, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning octopus antipasto—perfect as a starter or light lunch.
While delicious as a salad, this recipe can also become a wonderful sauce to serve over pasta. Warm 1 Tbsp (15 mL) grapeseed oil in large frying pan over medium-high heat and add tomatoes, zucchini instead of cucumber, beans, and a splash of water or white wine. Sauté until warmed through and tomatoes start to pop and release their juices. Stir in octopus and some of its marinade before spooning over spaghetti.
1 1/2 lbs (750 g) frozen octopus tentacles, thawed in refrigerator
2 Tbsp (30 mL) kosher salt, for scrubbing
1 yellow onion, cut in half
2 bay leaves
1 lemon, halved
2 cups (500 mL) dry white wine (optional)
2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender stems only
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground coriander
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp (5 mL) finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup (60 mL) lemon juice
1/4 cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp (5 mL) sambal oelek chili paste or sriracha chili sauce
1 cup (250 mL) halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup (250 mL) chopped cucumber
1 1/2 cups (350 mL) cooked cannellini beans
1/4 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper
Scrub octopus with salt and rinse thoroughly under cold water. In large pot, place octopus, onion, bay leaves, lemon, wine (if using), and enough water to cover octopus by 2 in (5 cm). Bring to a boil before reducing heat to low and let simmer slowly, uncovered, topping up with water as needed, until octopus is fork tender, about 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
While octopus is cooking, create marinade by combining parsley, cumin, coriander, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, oil, and sambal oelek or sriracha in food processor or blender until it forms a paste. Transfer to medium bowl and set aside.
When octopus is ready, remove from cooking liquid and, while hot, remove skin. It should wipe away easily with a paper towel. Slice into 4 in (10 cm) pieces and place warm octopus in marinade and toss to coat. Allow octopus to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour, before transferring to airtight container and refrigerating for at least 24 hours, but no longer than 48 hours.
When ready to assemble dish, preheat broiler. Remove octopus tentacles from marinade, reserving marinade. Place octopus on baking tray, and broil, turning frequently, until warmed through and starting to crisp in spots, about 5 minutes total.
Transfer to cutting board and cut into bite-sized pieces. Transfer to large bowl and add cherry tomatoes, cucumber, beans, and pepper. Add 2 Tbsp (30 mL) octopus marinade and toss until everything is well combined. Place in serving bowl and serve alongside toasted bread, if desired.