Anyone who has been following this blog would have noticed that I am obsessed with Italian fare. And among the “Italian fare” the constant follower would have also noticed that my absolute addiction happens to be risotto. Well if you haven’t noticed, now you know.
I have also been obsessed with seafood lately (see Nasi goreng and seafood fettuccine) and when I saw these magnificent octopuses at the supermarket the other day, I simply could not resist. By the time the supermarket fellow has put the octopuses in the bag I had already formed the perfect dish in my mind – octopus risotto. I knew it was going to be a good one.
Yet I prefer to go local and therefore I chose a local heirloom rice which is known for its nutty taste. Kahawanu, a red and yellow rice that looks like gold sovereigns went well with the octopus with its nutty flavour and the al dente texture.
Known as “Risotto al polpo” this octopus risotto is where Sri Lankan meets quintessentially Italian.
- Prep Time : 30 mins minutes
- Cook Time : 20 mins minutes
- Yield : 3 servings
- Octopus - 1kg
- Rice - 400g (I used a Sri Lankan Heirloom rice variety - Kahavanu)
- Red wine - ½ cup
- Garlic - 8 cloves, crushed
- Large onions - 2, chopped
- Chicken stock - 1 cup
- Thyme - Few sprigs
- Parsely - 80g, chopped
- Bay leaves - 2
- Olive oil - ½ cup
- Parmesan cheese - Handful (optional)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- In a pan, place the octopus, 1 clove chopped garlic, thyme, olive oil and wine. Boil the octopus until tender and a fork inserted into the flesh goes through. Once done, keep the octopus aside. Keep the pan juices.
- Once cooled, cut the octopus into bite sized pieces.
- In a nonstick pan sauté the minced garlic in some olive oil. Add to this the onions and sauté till translucent. Add the octopus and sautee till slightly browned. Add the bay leaves and the washed and drained rice and mix well until all is combined. Add the pan juices and half the stock until the liquid covers about ½ cm above the rice. Partially cover and simmer over low heat for 15 mins.
- Test the rice. If it is still raw add more of the stock until the rice has been thoroughly cooked but retains an al dente texture.
- Once done turn off heat. Stir in the parsley and salt and pepper to taste while the rice is still warm. Dig in! Sprinkle the grated parmesan on top before serving.
This dish for me brings the taste of the sea right to your home. The rice, mushy and al dente at the same time is delightfully flavoured with seafood and with the crunch and the green flavour of the parsley, it truly is like a delicious bite of the sea. The octopus, calamari-like in flavour has been braised in wine and is soft and buttery to the bite, squirting intense flavours at every bite. The wine adds a kick of tartness to the rice while the parmesan contributes with a creaminess that balances the dish so perfectly upon the palate. The olive oil with its green and fresh notes combine with the parsley to provide that breath of freshness which intensifies and uplifts at every bite.
Don’t be intimidated by those tentacles. They are awfully yummy!
- Be careful when salting the dish. Octopus tends to be a tad salty and therefore, salting is recommended only at the end.
- If you prefer a creamier risotto, add 100ml thick cream to the rice mixture 5 minutes before taking it off heat. I prefer the healthy version and hence avoid the cream and the cheese.
How to clean an octopus
- Peel off the purple skin off the octopus. Simply rub it with a finger nail and pull. It should come off easily.
- Cut the octopus below the eyes and above the eyes. Take the head part and remove all the innards. Wash thoroughly.
- At the centre of the flower-like part of the octopus (where the tentacles span out) you will find a hard button-like part. Simply push from the bottom until the part pops out.