Octopus is a great alternative to fish. People tend to shy away when it comes to cooking ‘the beast’, although it is extremely easy. Cooked properly not only is octopus nutritious; it is also amazing in taste and texture.
Emily Roux shares a recipe from New French Table co-authored with her mother, Giselle. The pair loves their greens and the book is full of versatile and satisfying salads that are delightful to eat year round. Follow the seasons, and in autumn swap new potatoes for Anya potatoes in this delectable Octopus dish.
New French Table by Emily & Giselle Roux, published by Mitchell Beazley, £25 at Octopus Books.
About this recipe
Preparation Time45 Minutes
Cooking Time180 Minutes
Emily Roux's Octopus Salad with Chilli Mayonnaise
For the octopus:
1 whole octopus (approx. 2kg) – it will reduce in size once cooked
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 white onion, roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
4 black peppercorns
1 tablespoon rock salt
butter, for pan-frying
For the mayonnaise:
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 lemon, juiced
250ml neutral oil
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
For the salad:
250g Anya potatoes, halved
4 tbsp olive oil
2 large spring onions, halved
1 large spring onion, thinly sliced
2 green chillies or baby green peppers, deseeded
3 little gem lettuces, quartered
1 tbsp butter, plus 1 tsp
To prepare the octopus: Cut off and discard the head, including the beak, then remove and discard any innards.
Place the carrot, onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and rock salt in a large casserole dish, add approximately 2 litres (3½ pints) water and bring to the boil. Add the octopus and check that the water covers it – add more if it doesn’t.
Once boiling, reduce the heat and cook the octopus in simmering water for up to 1½ hours – depending on the size of the octopus – until tender (check frequently with a knife). Once you can easily cut through the flesh, drain the octopus and leave to cool before transferring to the fridge overnight.
The next day, make the mayonnaise. Place the egg yolk in a large bowl. Add the mustard and lemon juice and whisk in the oil, drop by drop, until it is well combined. After a few minutes the sauce will emulsify and thicken.
Season to taste with salt and pepper and add the sweet chilli sauce.
To make the salad. Place the Anya potatoes in a pan large enough to fit them all in. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and set over a medium heat. Spread out the potatoes fleshside down and let them colour for 5 minutes.
Once they have a nice caramelized brown colour pour in the measured water and cover the pan with a lid. The steam will cook the potatoes. Once the water has completely evaporated, approximately 8 minutes, season with the salt and pepper and set aside.
Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and pan-sear the halved spring onions for 2–3 minutes, or until tender, then add the green chillies and pan-sear for 1 minute. Once both the spring onions and when the chillies are tender, remove from the heat and set aside with the potatoes.
Pan-sear the lettuces for a few minutes on each side in 1 teaspoon of butter. The lettuces should not be cooked, just charred to give them extra taste.
Finally, peel any excess skin off the octopus and slice before pan-frying in 1 tablespoon of butter for 2 minutes on each side. Once the octopus is a beautiful brown, caramelized colour, remove from the pan.
Divide the warm ingredients between serving plates, add a couple of spoonfuls of mayonnaise to each plate, and then sprinkle the finely sliced spring onion on top.