Octopus with Tomato Fillets
Our summer vacations always include at least one week at the sea. Everyday of that week I go for an early morning jog towards the shore, where I find fishermen coming back with their fresh catches. As a seafood lover, I concentrate and satisfy all my desire for fish in that one week. Francesco, a timid, reserved fisherman, etched by the sun and by the salt, appearing to be older than his actual age, displays his daily selection of fish. He passionately suggests which I should choose and how I should cook it best. He then wraps it up in newspaper and hands it to me with his scarred, rustic hands. Not once did I miss to follow his suggestions, not once did I miss to follow his recipes, not once did his advice fail to meet expectations. Today, on this cold December day, as we approach the Christmas season, I have a nostalgic summer sense and Francesco comes to my mind with one of his recipes. Here I am to share it with you, "Polpo Piccante ai Filetti di Pomodoro".
1 kg octopus
8 peeled tomatoes (or canned tomatoes)
3 garlic cloves
2 hot chili peppers
taggiasche olives (or small black olives)
extra virgin olive oil
Place the octopus in a pressure cooker with 3 cups of cold water, cook for 15 minutes. If you don't have a pressure cooker, place the octopus in a pot with cold water and boil for 45-50 minutes, until tender. Do not add salt.
In a saucepan, add some extra virgin olive oil and 2 garlic cloves. When the oil is hot, add the whole peeled tomatoes (this will make your stove a mess!). Don't squish the tomatoes, leave them whole. Add the olives. Turn the tomatoes so they can cook on all sides, lower the heat. Add one leaf of basil and salt towards the end. Cooking time: 15 minutes.
At this point, your octopus will be done (if you are using a pressure cooker). Remove the octopus from the pot and divide the tentacles from one another. Heat a separate pan with extra virgin olive oil, one garlic glove and a chili pepper, add the tentacles and sear on all sides. This will take 5 minutes.
Assemble your dish as you please. Done.