Pressed octopus with seaweed and miso

Pressed octopus with seaweed and miso

Nuovo Mondo
Alan Benson

Jim: Modern cookery is evolving constantly, and the barriers between cuisines and the traditional rules for what we can or cannot do seem to be dissolving. Chefs understand more about the science of food and the reactions between proteins and the ingredients used to prepare them. It is not a sin to use flavours or ideas from other cultures to enhance your own cooking style. It is a sin not to embrace as many cooking techniques and exotic ingredients as possible. This reinvention of Italian poached octopus is the product of my ongoing affection for Japanese cuisine.


Quantity Ingredient
4 nori
750ml sweet wine such as moscato
1 thyme
1 garlic, cut in half crosswise
1 lemon, cut in half
50g salt
1 medium-sized octopus
15 gold-strength leaf gelatine, soaked in cold water until soft
baby shoots or frisée lettuce, to garnish

Miso sauce

Quantity Ingredient
100g white miso paste
50g unsalted butter, roughly chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Line a 15 cm × 30 cm terrine tin or mould with plastic wrap. Place 2 of the nori sheets into the base the lined tin – they should overhang two sides of the tin.
  2. Put the wine, thyme, garlic, lemon and salt into a large saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil.
  3. Using a sharp knife, remove the tentacles from the octopus and discard the head. Place the octopus in the boiling stock, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and leave the octopus to braise and steam for about 1 hour. You may need to add some chicken stock or water to the pan if the liquid gets too low.
  4. When the octopus is tender, remove using a slotted spoon and transfer to the terrine mould. Transfer ½ cup of the cooking liquid to a small saucepan over low heat. Add the softened gelatine sheets and stir until dissolved. Strain this mixture through a fine sieve into the terrine mould over the octopus.
  5. Cut the remaining nori sheets to size so they fit the top of the tin. Place a similar-sized terrine tin on top with a weight in it (food tins work well for this) and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight to allow the octopus to set.
  6. To make the miso sauce, place 100 ml in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Stir in the miso paste, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm until ready to serve.
  7. To serve, cut the terrine into 2 cm slices and place on serving plates. Drizzle with the miso sauce and garnish with the frisée lettuce.


  • Octopus is ideal for making a quick summer salad. Simply poach the octopus as in the recipe opposite, then leave it to cool. Mix in a salad bowl 3 large octopus tentacles, sliced on an angle, the chopped heart of 1 celery stick (white part only), 1 cup cooked chickpeas (tinned is fine, rinse well), 1 finely chopped garlic clove, a little chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley and a dressing of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Or, in the absence of chickpeas, cook some diced potatoes, carrots and celery separately and toss the octopus with these and a few cubes of avocado. Also dress with oil, salt, pepper and lemon, and some mayonnaise on the side.
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