This dish is based on a traditional Roman technique for cooking octopus and then adding all the benefits of deep frying. It really highlights the flavour of the octopus as well as keeping it amazingly tender. It’s a great snack to eat with your hands.
- 250 g black olives
- 6 mandarins
- 250 g sugar
- 200 g butter
- 1 kg Fremantle octopus hands
- ½ bunch of thyme
- 500 ml vegetable oil
- 100 ml black vinegar
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Drying time overnight
Chilling time 30 minutes
You will need to start this recipe one day before.
Prepare the olives the day before. Remove the pits from all the olives. Take 200 g of the olives and dry in a low oven at 110ºC overnight. Once these olives are dry, chop them finely and reserve.
Place the mandarins in a pot and cover in water, weighing them down with some baking paper and a plate just big enough to fit inside the pot. Simmer on a medium heat for about 10 minutes, until the mandarins are tender. Remove from the liquid and allow to cool. Once cool, cut the mandarins in half. Cover a heavy-based pan with the sugar and place the mandarins face down. Add the chopped-up butter and any excess mandarin juice. Cook on a medium heat until the sugar has caramelised. Remove from heat.
Blitz the mandarin, sugar and butter mix in a blender on high speed until smooth. Pass through a fine strainer and chill in the fridge.
To cook the octopus, place in a heavy-based pot that has a tightly fitting lid and dress with a little olive oil, the thyme and remaining olives. Put the lid on the pot and cook over low heat until the octopus is tender, roughly 2 hours. Give the octopus a turn every half hour or so.
Once the octopus is tender, remove it from the liquid and chill it in the fridge. When the octopus is cold, cut it into individual tentacles and then cut the tentacles in thirds.
Heat the oil to 200ºC in a deep pot. Fry the octopus until crispy, being careful as the oil may splash. Drain the octopus on a paper towel. Season well with salt.
To serve, place a large dollop of the mandarin purée on a plate and coat it with the dried olives. Arrange the octopus on the plate and dress to taste with the black vinegar. Dip the octopus in the mandarin and suck it down!
Photography by Greg Elms. Recipe and image from Planet to Plate: The Earth Hour Cookbook (available online, $40, hbk).