After a long morning spent swimming in the beautiful sea at Plakias (Southern Crete) and drying under the warm Mediterranean sun, there is nothing more satisfying than a long lazy lunch in a traditional taverna overlooking the sea. One year, a big group of us tucked into grilled octopus, calamari, chicken, rice, tzatziki, courgette fritters, lamb chops, souvlaki and fresh fish, washed down with ice cold beer, carafes of wine and Raki. We’d ordered safely for the kids all holiday, so was amazed to see one of the boys happily tucking into grilled octopus for lunch.
This is Yiayia’s rather excellent version. Obviously, the octopus tastes far better when fished fresh out of the Mediterranean and smashed on the side of the harbour to release the ink. However, you’ll find something perfectly adequate in most UK supermarkets or fishmongers.
Preparation Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 20 minutes
1 fresh medium octopus
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 tbsp water
For the vinaigrette
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp Dijon mustard
salt & pepper for seasoning
fresh parsley, chopped (for decoration)
Wash the octopus extremely well. Place the octopus (whole), bay leaf, peppercorns, vinegar and water into a saucepan. Cover and on a low heat cook for 20 minutes.
Note that the octopus will release some water. Keep an eye on the contents and ensure that there is always some liquid in the saucepan. You may feel you need to add a little more water.
After 20 minutes or so of cooking, the octopus should be done. You can check to see that the octopus is cooked by piercing it with a toothpick. If the toothpick is removed easily, the octopus is ready.
Remove the octopus from the saucepan. Cut the legs into 2 inch strips and the body into 2 inch cubes. Place into your serving bowl.
In another bowl mix together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard and season with salt & pepper.
Pour the vinaigrette sauce over the octopus. If you like, sprinkle with parsley and nicely served with toasted pitta bread.