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Author Notes: If a single dish can make a person fall in love with an entire culture, this is it. My first meal in Lisbon was polvo à lagareiro in the back garden of a restaurant in Chiado, setting off a chain reaction of Portugal-philia that hasn't subsided. This dish is generally served simply with cilantro on top. I go a little crazy with a cilantro pesto that on its own could be repurposed for any number of dishes including, but not limited to, crostini.
Traditionally, the octopus is served with batatas a murro-punched potatoes. —Hi, I'm Brian.
- 1 kg frozen and cleaned octopus
- 10 juniper berries, crushed
- 10 black peppercorns, crushed
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper
- Thaw the octopus. Note: you may be compelled to buy fresh octopus. I urge you to go with frozen. The freezing and unfreezing serves to tenderize what can be a very tough cephalopod.
- Bring a pot of salted water–salty as the sea–to a boil with the juniper berries, peppercorn, and bay leaves. Reduce to a simmer, and place the octopus in the water. Simmer for an hour or so. Poke it with a sharp knife periodically to check for doneness. It's done when it feels done, which is terrible guidance, but it's a lot like cooking potatoes: when there's no longer any resistance, the octopus is done. The beauty of cooking octopus is that if you overcook it you can actually keep cooking and it'll re-tenderize.
- When the octopus is done, remove from the water, and cut the tentacles from the head. Toss with the olive oil, paprika, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Prepare the grill, preferably charcoal.
- When the grill is ready, grill the octopus until crispy, about 2 minutes each side.
- Serve with cilantro pesto, below.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 cups packed cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup raw pepita (shelled pumpkin seeds), or pine nuts
- salt and pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan, add the garlic, and heat until slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Discard the garlic.
- In a food processor, puree the cilantro and pepita. With the motor running, slowly pour in the garlicky olive oil until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe for Barbecued Meat