Tuesday, 24 July 2012

ITTP Prague TEFL: Grilled Octopus

I can clearly remember back to my early twenties on one of my adventures and the plates of grilled octopus served up in the Tavernas, lining the Greek harbor of Piraeus, and thinking how disgusting it all looked. Probably as I was munching on a Gyros - not the type you get in Prague but the real deal, with lamb and tomatoes to die for. Now that my perception of food has matured I look back on that muggy afternoon with regret, that I hadn't gorged myself on the affordable sea food when it was there fresh for the picking. 
(Click on photo to enlarge)
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country so if you want fresh octopus you really need to head to Croatia, but there are some (rather expensive) Greek restaurants in Prague which do serve up this dish as fresh as expected for this geographical location. This week I popped into our local Lidl discount supermarket to see if they had anything special - they usually have weekly themes and when they had a French one I picked up a decent and affordable bottle of Normandy cider - lo and behold they were selling a (frozen) pack of octopus for under 100 CZK. I immediately bought it, went home, and dug the grill out from its hibernation. Here is a simple but tasty recipe for grilled octopus if you do feel like a waltz down to your local Lidl frozen food section: 

2 limes or lemons
1 pack of (frozen) octopus
2 tablespoons of white wine
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons of salt
A 'cigar' of fresh parsley


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon or 1 lime and add the lemon or lime rinds to the water. 

Whole octopus parts boiling in pot (Click on photo to enlarge)

Carefully place the octopus into the boiling water and cook uncovered for about 40 minutes.
This tenderizes the octopus and extracts some of its water, meaning that it won't taste like rubber when you have finished grilling it.

Olive oil, white wine and salt marinade (Click on photo to enlarge)

While the octopus is cooking mix the olive oil, white wine and salt in a bowl.

The whole octopus pieces after boiling (Click on photo to enlarge)

The whole octopus pieces cut after boiling (Click on photo to enlarge)

The octopus pieces in the marinade (Click on photo to enlarge)

Remove the octopus, taking off the unwanted sections (if any) and marinate in the bowl for a few minutes.

The octopus pieces on the grill (Click on photo to enlarge)

Place the octopus pieces onto a grill (I used a basic barbecue set which I picked up for around 350 CZK at the Obi DIY hypermarket) and grill the octopus until brown and crisp on the edges, making sure to turn over every 5 minutes so as not to burn.
Take the Octopus off the grill when ready.
Squeeze half your lime or lemon over the octopus, form the parsley into a cigar shape and cut into small pieces for garnish.

Preparation Tip:

I added a bit of olive oil and wine, plus salt and pepper for seasoning to the boiling water and this did add to the overall taste of the meal.
You can also leave the octopus whole and cut it up after grilling and this is probably a better option as you avoid losing any smaller legs through the grill gate.

Obi barbecue set with heavy pan sitting on coals (Click on photo to enlarge)

Pimp it up:

I had a chilled glass of sparkling water with my dish but you really want to have this dish with a glass of white wine. You could also add some warmed up pita bread and a bowl of Greek yogurt to the meal.

Chilled glass of sparkling water (Click on photo to enlarge)

Hope it helps!

Dobrou chut!/Bon appetit!

Neville :-)