Octopus carpaccio with smoked paprika mayo

Octopus carpaccio with smoked paprika mayo

By
From
A Lot on Her Plate
Serves
6-8
Photographer
Helen Cathcart

I have eaten octopus carpaccio – octopus cooked briefly then set in its own gelatine and sliced into delectable wafer-thin slivers – at various restaurants and always marveled at its beauty, elegance and flavour. It makes for an unusual and interesting plate to start a supper, and is perfect for those squeamish people who don’t like their cephalopods with tentacles intact. I also assumed it was something that required some kind of seriously hightech chef kit and skill, but, once I started experimenting with octopus at home, I realised it’s actually pretty easy to make – requiring little more than cling film, a freezer, a bit of patience and a very sharp knife.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 octopus
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
2 sticks celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
80ml dry white wine
2 bay leaves
5g parsley stalks, tied together with string
3 black peppercorns
star anise
1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

To garnish

Quantity Ingredient
1 batch Smoked paprika mayo
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 lemon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
oregano, chervil leaves or finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 tablespoon toasted pine nuts

Method

  1. First, you need to tenderise the octopus. You can do this easily by freezing it a couple of days before you cook it, and then defrosting it. I tend to buy it frozen from the fishmonger (lots of Asian grocers also sell them frozen) so I just need to defrost it and I’m ready to go. You may also need to remove the eyes. Do this by cutting around and under them with a very sharp knife and popping them and the attached cartilage out. When you cut out the eyes you can then press the hard beak (the creature’s mouth) out of the centre cavity where the legs join together. Clean any gunk from the cavities with kitchen paper, and rinse the octopus under cold water for about 10 minutes. You can ask your fishmonger to prepare the octopus for you, but it’s good to learn yourself!
  2. Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based casserole. Add the onion, celery and carrot, and cook for 5 minutes until soft and aromatic, but not browned. Remove from the heat and wait until the vegetables are completely cool before adding the octopus and all the other ingredients (apart from the garnish). Cover with cold water, bring up to a gentle boil and turn immediately down to a simmer. Cook very gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove the octopus from the bouillon and put it on a chopping board to rest until it’s cool enough to handle, but still warm. Lay a large, double sheet of cling film on the work surface. Cut the head off the octopus and tuck it inside the tentacles. Place the octopus on the cling film and wrap one side of the cling film over on top of it. Pull it tightly and, squeezing the octopus together, roll it tightly in the cling film, twisting the ends so you have a solid octopus ‘sausage’. If there is any moisture inside, unravel it, drain out the moisture and repeat the rolling and wrapping – you want a solid mass of octopus that will set in its own gelatine. Allow it to cool then freeze for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
  4. Once the octopus is set, remove the cling film. Using a very sharp knife, carefully slice off wafer-thin slivers. Arrange them on plates, drizzle with the smoked paprika mayo and olive oil, squeeze over some lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with oregano, chervil leaves or parsley, and scatter with toasted pine nuts.
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