Shane pays homage to the flavours of the Tripoli souk using Western Australian marron. You could use king prawns or yabbies instead of marron, simply adjust the cooking times accordingly.






Skill level

Average: 4.9 (6 votes)


  • 2 brown onions, peeled
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 350 g moghrabieh (see Note)
  • 2 radishes, finely shaved
  • 2 baby turnips, finely shaved
  • ½ cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1–2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 lemon, finely zested
  • 10 mint leaves, torn
  • 20 micro celery shoots

Braised octopus

  • 1 kg octopus tentacles, beaten
  • 100 ml cabernet vinegar
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 4 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 fresh bay leaves, bruised
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • salt and cracked black pepper

Poached marron

  • 4 x 400g live Western Australian marron
  • 1 brown onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 6 thyme sprigs

Marron butter

  • 750 g ghee (see Note)
  • reserved marron heads and shells (from above), bruised
  • 1 brown onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 small fennel, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 100 g tomato paste
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 green cardamom pods
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 6 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tsp saffron
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 250 ml (1 cup) arak (see Note)
  • salt

Cook's notes

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.


To prepare the octopus, rinse thoroughly with cold water. Place the octopus and remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Partially cover, adjust the heat to the gentlest simmer possible and cook for 1–1½ hours or until the octopus is tender. Remove the octopus from the pan and when cool enough to handle, peel back and remove the grey skin. This should happen pretty easily. Refrigerate until chilled, then cut into 5 mm slices, leaving the suckers intact. Refrigerate until required.

To cook the marron, place them in the freezer for 20 minutes to euthanise. Bring 5 litres salted water onion, bay leaves and thyme to the boil. Once the water is boiling steadily, place the marron in the water and cover with a lid. Cook for 4–6 minutes (timing will depend on the size of the marron) or until the flesh has just turned opaque. Drain and refresh in iced water. Drain again. Separate the marron head from the body by twisting in opposite directions; the body should pull away easily. Using kitchen scissors, cut down the length of the tail and remove the shell. Reserve the heads and shells for the marron butter. Cut each marron tail in half lengthways and remove any veins from the meat. Refrigerate until required.

To make the marron butter, place a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 100 g of the ghee and the marron shells and cook, stirring, for 3–4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, fennel and garlic. Cook for 4–5 minutes, until the vegetables soften but are not coloured. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the spices and herbs and cook for a further 1 minute. Pour in the arak, bring to a simmer, then add the remaining ghee. Season to taste, reduce the heat to the lowest possible simmer, and cook for a minimum of 1 hour, or up to 3 hours time permitting. Strain through a double layer of muslin into a sterilised jar. The marron butter will keep for 6 months in the refrigerator.

To cook the moghrabieh, place the peeled onions in a medium saucepan and cover generously with cold water. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15–20 minutes or until the onion is tender. Remove from the water and set aside to cool. Reserve water. When cool enough to handle, cut into 1 cm dice. This can be done in advance.

Add the salt to the onion cooking water and return to the boil. Add the moghrabieh and cook for 12–15 minutes or until tender. Strain, reserving the water. Return water to the same saucepan and bring to boil. Briefly blanch the moghrabieh to reheat right before serving.

Place shaved vegetables into iced water until ready to serve, then drain.

Place a large saucepan over high heat and add ½ cup of marron butter. Add the marron and octopus and cook for 1½ minutes, tossing the seafood in the butter. Add the moghrabieh, diced cooked onion, chickpeas, cinnamon and lemon rind and cook, gently stirring, for a further 2 minutes or until heated through. Add the mint leaves, season to taste and mix to combine.

To serve, pile the seafood and moghrabieh into a serving dish. Garnish with shaved vegetables and celery shoots. Serve immediately.


• Moghrabieh is large, Lebanese couscous made from durum wheat and is available from Middle Eastern grocers and some fine food stores.
• Ghee is a type of clarified butter with the milk solids removed. It is available at Indian grocers and some supermarkets.
• Arak is an anise flavoured white spirit available from specialty liquor stores.