Octopuses have no bones but a lot of hard muscles which have to be tenderized. The first thing fishermen do in Greece when they catch an octopus is to keep beating it on rocks or on the shore, if there are no rocks, for about 40 – 50 times. All the fibres break apart and the octopus is tender and succulent. It also helps if it is dried in the sun for 2 – 3 hours.
I’ve seen my nephew do this many times. He knows all the tricks about octopus. He usually finds them near rocks but if there aren’t any rocks he knows other tricks as well. One day when we went to the beach in Samos, where we used to live, he said I’ll be back in ten minutes. He came back with an octopus. He found a can, opened the top and left it in the deep. Octopus like to hide so he knew that if there were any octopuses there he would get one.
Octopus is a Greek word. “Okto” meaning eight and “pous” is the ancient word for foot. Having eight feet (tentacles). In the middle of the tentacles there is a beak and above the tentacles is a sac which includes the inc sac, stomack entrails and the remaining organs.
I usually cook frozen octopus which is always clean inside.
However, if you have a fresh one, cut the head from the tentacles.
Remove the beak by cutting it round the tentacles.
The remaining part is where all the organs are. Just above the beak there is a hard part, which is where the skull is and cut this and discard it. Then turn it inside out and pull away anything that is inside, trying not to break the ink sac. Wash inside well, then turn it over again.
I usually remove the outer skin from the head only. Wash again all the octopus.
Htapodi Ladorigani (octopus in olive oil and oregano dressing)
The best way of eating an octopus is grilling and serving it with an olive oil and oregano dressing.
Although Risotto is an Italian traditional dish, I have made this recipe “nistisimo” which means that it does not include any dairy products or eggs or other meat in the recipe, in order to have a variety of dishes during the fasting period of Lent.
Both recipes are included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!