Sunday, 21 April 2013

Azores Octopus

The Azores are an archipelago of nine volcanic islands strung across the Northern Atlantic some 1500km west of Lisbon and 1900km southeast of Newfoundland.

Like Madeira, these once-uninhabited islands are autonomous but integrated within the framework of Portugal. They look fascinating.

Travellers return with tales of active volcanoes, tea, pineapple and tobacco plantations, vineyards, boiling seas, towering green cliffs and a lush marine environment with over twenty five species of whales, loggerhead turtles, blue sharks, bottlenose dolphins and deadly Portuguese Man of War jellyfish.

A recipe for jellyfish will have to wait. Octopus girl is back. This recipe makes a lovely and unusual starter and it scored full marks from Filipa. Can't be bad.

serves 4-6 as a starter

750g octopus, cleaned and cut into small chunks
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
celery stalk, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cloves
good handful chopped parsley
large sprig thyme
two pinches ground piri piri or chilli flakes
5 tablespoons white wine
3 tablespoons brandy

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the onion and celery until soft and golden. Add the garlic, parsley and thyme. When you can smell the garlic, add the octopus.

Cook for 15 minutes until most of the liquid has reduced. Add the piri piri and the cloves and season with salt and pepper.

Add the wine, brandy and 125ml of water and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and leave to simmer for 1 hour until most of the liquid has evaporated and the octopus is looking almost caramelised. Remove the lid if needed.

Taste to make sure the octopus is nice and tender and adjust the seasoning. Serve with crusty bread and a big smile.

Recipe adapted from Tessa Kiros' Piri Piri Starfish

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