Well…it was a nice idea….”Carpaccio of Octopus”

When you blog over a period of time, you realise that often you cook and eat old favourites because they’re easy, familiar and, well, they’re good to eat. Because we have the lovely Fish Lady who delivers, we make the most of local fish but I confess to mostly cooking it quite simply on the grill or in the oven.

Pulpo Carpaccio (3)

When we are lucky enough to have an octopus delivered, I usually make Pulpo a la Gallega. Octopus cooked in the style of Galicia. And very good it is too.

Just before we took off for England a few weeks ago, Fish Lady (who is actually called Ana Maria) sold me an enormous octopus which weighed nearly 2 kilos. A monster from the deep. I knew that we wouldn’t eat it before we left so I cleaned it and divided it into two portions and froze it. Octopus (if it’s fresh when you buy it) actually benefits from being frozen as it tenderises it and beats slamming it on a nearby rock for half an hour in native fisherman style.

Looking for a new way to cook my tentacled friend, I came across a recipe for a Carpaccio of Octopus. It’s not really Carpaccio as the octopus is cooked first, but I liked the idea of beautiful thin slices of octopus laid out on a platter and dressed with lemon and olive oil. Here’s the video for you to see how it SHOULD be done.

I cleaned and cooked my octopus until is was beautifully tender. I even kept the delicious purple cooking juices to use in another dish.

I washed a water bottle, pierced some holes in the bottom and cut the top off.

Pulpo (1)

Then I packed in the tentacles, making sure to twirl them into an attractive pattern.

Pulpo (2)

Slits were cut into the top of the bottle then folded down.

Pulpo (3)

A weight was put on top of the beastie and it was left to chill and drain.

Pulpo (4)

So far so good, it even turned out beautifully from its plastic tunnel when required. It just didn’t keep its shape. Hmph.

I think I didn’t press it down enough, perhaps I drained off too much juice. But no matter. I cut it into rather chunky chunks, dressed it with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and parsley and it tasted wonderful.

Pulpo Carpaccio (4)

Big Man, on seeing it, asked where the pimentón and potatoes were (the usual accompaniments for Pulpo a la Gallega). I explained it was a different dish. He tasted, he smiled and said “Delicious, but you’ve cut it into really big chunks haven’t you?” He was lucky he didn’t get the native fisherman treatment.

Ten out of ten for taste, but it’s back to the drawing board for Chica and her Octopus Carpaccio when it comes to presentation.


61 thoughts on “Well…it was a nice idea….”Carpaccio of Octopus”

    1. Well, you have to have curly tentacles! I think I put too much drainage in (must have been thinking of gardening), probably best not to do it at all and leave the lovely jelly in there to set the octopus. Go on, give it a go in a huge Casera bottle and put me to shame and delight your pals on the rooftop 🙂

  1. Wow what an interesting way to make this dish. I love pulpo a la gallega, but this looks great too. If you can get the soft consistency, you’ve got half the battle won. I’m impressed at how good this looks. Honestly, I sometimes think you need a special knife or carver to get it to carpaccio thinness. Great job!

    1. The pulpo was amazingly tender – sometimes I slow cook it in the oven for about 4 hours, this time I did it on the stove top for about an hour and a half. I used my jamon knife but as I didn’t have enough jelly to hold the pulpo together, it ended up like it did! Oh well, lesson learned….

  2. What an interesting video! And the carpaccio looks delicious, hers and yours. 🙂 So I am curious even after watching the video, do you slice down vertically on the pressed stack? I would guess so, but it’s still got to be awfully hard to carve thinly, even with an electric knife. What a great post! 🙂

    1. You slice it as if you were slicing a giant sausage (does that make sense?!), but mine “roll” collapsed due to lack of jelly to hold it together…my fault 😦 And yes, you need a super sharp or fine knife, something like a carving knife would be good. I have to say, it didn’t look like carpaccio but it tasted lovely!

  3. The big man must indeed be BIG if he lobbed that comment at you and felt safe in his imunity ;). LOVE the look of that octopus and my daughter would be salavating just looking at it. Who cares what it looks like if its tasty and tender YOU WIN! 🙂

    1. I think he was getting too big for his boots when he commented….will have to rein in that bravado! Luckily we neither of us take things like this too seriously and he redeemed himself tonight by taking me to our lovely local bar with the pups (where they can scamper around in the olives) for a lovely evening of food and drink 🙂

      1. Sounds like he was buttering you up…watch him, he is after something! ;). Seriously though, what a glorious picture you paint! Dogs welcome and olives to scamper in? My idea of heaven 🙂

      2. Like the Beaconsfield hotel…not much to look at but always packed to the gills and with “Steak Night”, “Fish and Chip Night”, “Curry Night” etc. all accompanied by all you can eat salad and none over $10 I figure they know when they are onto a winner. A good pub is worth it’s weight in gold. I would love to see pickies including the dogs 🙂 Love those furry little 4 legged friends 🙂

  4. I love octopus: not that I am lucky enough to have a lovely fish lady call with a fresh one! But appreciate the idea that freezing is actually good for the recipe and shall beg and plead with any friends coming from Sydney to go to the Fish Market first! Your dish looks oh so appetizing – the video will be viewed after lunch 🙂 !

    1. Yes, it’s definitely one of those few foods that benefits from freezing. Rather like peas – unless you can eat them freshly picked within a few hours, frozen are your best bet 🙂

  5. I saw the title, Carpaccio of Octopus, and was a bit worried, Tanya. I’m all for sushi but that would have been a bit much. Instead, you treated us to a great dish! I htink yours looks fine to me. In fact, you’ve even tempted me to make it — or try. I’ve a feeling, though, that with my poor knife skills, I’d be completely frustrated midway into slicing the 2nd tentacle. By the time I was done and the dish dressed, that platter would contain a couple thick slices, quite a few chunks, and a whole tentacle or two. I bet yours is looking better by the second. 🙂
    This is such a coincidence. Just this past Sunday, I asked Zia if she remembered how to make polipo in umido, like they did a half century ago. I haven’t decided whether she remembers enough for me to bring one with me when I visit next week. “Baby” octopus is on sale at the market … 😉

    1. Mmm, raw octopus might well have been a step too far. But now you mention it…you know I’m going to have to investigate further! Polipo in Umido – I’m sure one of the Calabrian aunties (now long gone, bless her) used to make it. Will have to ask my mum because she was an avid recipe collector when we went on holiday!

  6. Brilliant dish and great little video. Such an excellent way to prepare the octopus. The last time I had really good octopus was in Skiathos some 20 years ago. Andy Harris, now editor at “Jamie” magazine, dived and caught the beast. It took the standard 100 whacks against the rocks and then he prepared two versions of that dish….one was with a lot of chilli. Such a good memory which I can sort of relive….in comfort:)

    1. I think the last time I was in Skiathos was about 20 years ago (or more)! Great octopus dishes there and I also remember a fantastic little shop that did flatbreads stuffed with lamb, salad and yogurt – fantastic 🙂 Is Andy Harris the chap who I think you said shares (or gardens) an allotment with your son? Brave man for catching his octopus!

  7. Ha. I’m picturing you whacking Big Man over the head with an octopus. I never would have thought that freezing it would help tenderize it. That’s interesting. Now I’m trying to remember if I’ve eaten octopus. Not sure I have.

  8. Hey girl! I think your octopus looks lovely, and I defo love me some octopus, any style! Quick tip though, notice how in the video they didn’t actually show her cutting the octopus? No matter how much time in the fridge or jelly would have kept that roll in shape to cut….and not with a knife either. In my restaurant, we did octopus carpaccio (I used to have a sicilian restaurant) and we had to partilly freeze the carpaccio and then slice it with the deli slicer…..so don’t blame yourself, blame the overzealous lady in the video!

    1. I feel so much better after reading your comment and I went back to the video and you’re right – they don’t show her cutting it. Cheeky! I part freeze fish if I am making ceviche, so your suggestion makes sense! I think I’ll just stop worrying about it and concentrate on the fact that it tasted great 🙂 Would love to learn more about your Sicilian restaurant….you’ll have to do some posts!

  9. Haha, it was indeed a lovely idea, and it doesn’t look badly executed at all. I guess if you didn’t tell anyone it was a carpaccio no-one would think it was abnormal – it looks great!

  10. Hahaha.. now there’ll be no flinging of Big Man on any fisherman’s rock, Tanya! (Although I’ve a mind to do the same now and then around here.) I think yours looks just lovely, none of us would have been the wiser if you hadn’t mentioned it. I wouldn’t have a clue what to do with a whole octopus.. apart from flinging it over a rock:D xx

  11. Wonderful Post! Laughed heartily at images of Octopus and Big Mans head ala Cthulhu. Looked like a great dish for the summer with a nice glass of something white and winy 😀

  12. It looks delicious… I love pulpo… but it also makes me sad because they are so intelligent and beautifully graceful in the water. I’m completely torn nowadays between my conscience and one of my favourite foods!

  13. You know from my utter lack of skills and effort how little presentation scores in my personal balance between prettiness and deliciousness! Yours looks positively restaurant-worthy to me. Still, an intriguing *idea* for presentation from the original. Just lucky for your fella that he prefaced his critique of the slicing with the more important critique of the fabulous taste! 😉

  14. Here in Madeira we get plentiful and great octopus. Having cooked itv as a stew and also as pickled Octopus, I thought that I would try Carpaccio. Used a similar recipe to yours but had the same result. The gel didn’t gel so I’ll have to try again. Now I have a great Octopus salad with capers, and olive oil and lemon , with lettuce and cherry tomatoes.
    BTW, I have tried many ways of getting Octopus prepared tender and the best I got from a local friend Isabel Rodriques.and she suggests placing the Octopus in a saucepan of cold water, bring it to the boil, removing from the heat, and leaving closed in the pot overnight. Reserve the liquid. I have never had a failure doing this.
    After that make your stew, pickle or Carpaccio.
    Take care,

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