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Octopus Soup

04 April 2014 / 08:04:24  GRReporter
1863 reads

Danielle Lachana

 

Seafood is particularly popular during the Lenten period in Greece. On the Greek islands fresh octopus is one of the first choices due to its abundance and tastiness, as you will discover in this octopus soup from the island of Kefalonia.

Greek fishermen will beat the freshly caught octopus against a rock around 45 to 50 times to tenderise it. The best way to tenderise an octopus at home is to freeze it for about a week, which in my opinion is the most effective, and least tiring, method. If you do not have the time you can bash the octopus repeatedly with a kitchen mallet. Other 'strange' methods, such as boiling with a number of wine corks in the water (!), in my opinion do not produce results...

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RECIPE

(Serves 6 - 8)

 

 

 

METHOD

If using a whole fresh octopus first clean and prepare it as described below.

You can also see the link at the end of this article, note 3], but please notice that in the video the 'head' mentioned is not actually the head of the octopus but the 'mantle' which contains the body - the head is further down with the eyes.

To clean the octopus lay it flat on a chopping board. Slice either side of the eyes and discard them.

Turn the mantle (containing the body) inside out and discard the innards including the ink sac. Try to avoid breaking the ink sac as the ink stains. Rinse well. If you wish, you can first remove the skin from the octopus but this is not necessary.

Push the beak (mouth) out from between the tentacles. If you cannot manage to push it out you can cut around it with a sharp knife first.

Rinse the octopus well, put it into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Do not add salt, as the octopus itself may be very salty. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 45 minutes, partially covered, until the octopus is tender. Remove the octopus and keep the cooking water. When cool enough to handle, cut the octopus into bite-sized pieces.

While the octopus is cooking, in another large pan, to 2 litres water - again do not add salt -, add the onion, lemon, celery, carrots and peppercorns* (see note 2]  below). Bring to the boil and simmer, partially covered, for about 45 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Remove the onion, lemon and peppercorns. Add the pureed tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add  the octopus and around 500 ml of the octopus cooking water - it may need straining first. Check again for taste - you can add more of the cooking water if liked. Cook for around 10 more minutes then check the seasoning and add salt only if necessary. Add the orzo pasta then  continue cooking, covered, until the orzo is cooked. Serve sprinkled with the parsley, if liked.

Cut potatoes into large chunks. Boil in a pan of salted water until nearly done then skin and cut into smaller pieces. Add to the large pan when the orzo is nearly ready.

Note:

1] Although you can add the potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks in along with the carrots etc. I prefer  to boil them separately as detailed above, to avoid them becoming mushy before the carrots are done.

2] If you are worried about not retrieving the peppercorns manually, you can tie them with string in a small piece of muslin or cheesecloth as in a 'bouquet garni', or failing this in a coffee filter paper.

3] Octopus cleaning and preparation link http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=RXdswwXjjr4

Since Easter will soon be here, next week we will be preparing traditional Greek Easter biscuits...

Tags: Octopus Soup Kefalonia Mediterranean recipes Lent Greek Lent
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