Every time my family had either bought an octopus or my dad managed to get one somehow when he went fishing, this is what we made. Maltese octopus stew. A stew made with Mediterranean staples – onions and garlic, tomatoes, olives, capers and wine.
We didn’t have octopus stew very often in our house but it was a real occasion when we did. It was only now and again that my dad would bring one home when he went fishing and I am not sure how he managed to catch it. I think it was always tangled in his line by accident. In Malta octopus are caught by spear fishing. Every time octopus would get mentioned in my family the stories of the great octopus catches would start flooding. We new of octopus being caught in Malta in Gnejna Bay or the beaches close by.
I made this octopus stew in a tomato sauce. When my family made this stew, potatoes were also added to make a one pot meal. I have done this in the past but have decided going forward that I won’t. I prefer to eat the stew with roast potatoes. The other options are to eat the stew with crusty bread, or how my girls will be eating their stew tonight, with pasta.
Ask your fish monger to clean your octopus for you as it saves you doing it at home as well as avoiding the mess. Before cooking your octopus you should tenderise the octopus with a mallet or rolling pin. It also helps to tenderise your octopus by freezing it first. Leave out to defrost for a few hours, tenderise with a mallet or rolling pin and then cook as per the instructions.
I hope you enjoy your octopus as much as I do!
- 3 onions finely diced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 garlic cloves crushed and chopped
- 1 kg octopus (I bought two small octopus) tenderised with a mallet and chopped into 5 cm pieces
- 4 tomatoes (500 grams) chopped
- 20 black olives
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 150 ml red wine
- lemon zest of 1 lemon and a squeeze of lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon each of thyme, mint, basil and parsley
- 6 potatoes peeled and quartered (optional)
- 100 grams peas (optional)
- Chopped herbs and lemon zest to garnish
- Olive oil for frying
- Salt and pepper
- In a heavy based dish fry the onions on low heat for ten minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and fry for 1 minute.
- Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute.
- Fry the octopus for ten minutes and stir continuously.
- Add the tomatoes and cook for ten minutes.
- Add the olives, capers, wine, lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice, and the herbs.
- Simmer for 45 minutes with the lid on.
- If adding potatoes add half an hour after stew is simmering.
- Once the stew has been simmering for 45 minutes add in the peas.
- Simmer for a further 15 minutes without the lid on.
- Serve with roast potatoes, or crusty bread, or pasta.
- Garnish with some chopped herbs and lemon zest.