k Char grilled Pulpo with Beetroot Tzatziki k
If you have never tried octopus tastes a lot like calamari – just meatier which makes sense given that it’s from the cephalopod mollusc family.
Octopus dishes always look visually impressive and are becoming a preferred choice by chefs and restaurateurs with a mild flesh that takes on aromatics as well as being equally delicious or chargrilled. Don’t be put off by preparing the octopus, yes it does look a little beast like…just embrace the challenge and get involved as this dish as it’s a dish that’s always going to impress whether for its originality, its form, texture, incredible colour and flavour.
When cooking octopus it benefits from being blanched first, then slow cooking it in its own juices, vegetables and aromatic herbs to enhance the delicate sweet flavor. Slow cooking also helps keep the octopus meat tender (just a little chewy, like lobster), but not tough. Once the octopus has been gently boiled in liquor the tentacles are chargrilled giving them additional colour and incredible flavour.
To accompany the pulpo I made a gloriously vibrant beetroot tzatziki. I found these gorgeous mini beets in my local market…too cute.
Eastern Mediterranean, regular tzatziki is made not just with thick yogurt and cucumbers, but also with grated cooked beetroot. The combination is quite wonderful, though the bright magenta colour makes the plate ‘pop’.
Ingredients Serves 4
1kg octopus tentacles
For the cooking liquor
1 cup (250ml) white wine vinegar
1/2 cup (125ml) white wine
1 onion roughly chopped
1 stick celery roughly chopped
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1 lemon, plus lemon wedges to serve
1 garlic clove, peeled
1-tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1/2 cucumber, grated
300g thick Greek-style yoghurt
300g cooked beetroot, grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
Small bunch mint leaves, finely chopped
Handful of fresh dill (optional)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
30ml extra virgin olive oil
Small mint leaves, red chard leaves and lemon wedges to serve
- Cut the head off the octopus just below the eye – discard the head, remove the ‘beak’ and wash the tentacles. Put all the liquor ingredients into a large pot of cold water, cover and boil. Using a pair of tongs plunge the octopus into the water, lift out and plunge into the water again. The tentacles will curl up at this point. Cook on a medium simmer for about 50 minutes to an hour. Check the octopus with a toothpick, you want it to be tender but still retain a bite. Leave it to cool in the broth, cut the tentacles in half and cover them in the olive oil.
- While the octopus is cooking prepare the tzatziki, combine the grated cucumber with 1 tsp salt in a bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes and squeeze the excess liquid. Add the yoghurt, garlic, mint, dill, lemon juice and olive oil then stir to combine and season to taste.
- Preheat a barbecue or chargrill pan to high heat. Place the octopus tentacles on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes each side or until nicely charred. Cool slightly and slice into bite sized pieces.
- Spread the Beet tzatziki over a serving dish and arrange with octopus and leaves. Drizzle over extra oil, sprinkle over sea salt and serve with lemon wedges.