Octopus Lagareiro/Polvo à Lagareiro
Lagareiro is a style of cooking fish which has many variants but typically ends in dressing the fish generously with extra virgin olive oil (lagareiro is the owner of an olive oil press) after grilling or roasting. There are great myths about octopus, its tenderness and how not to get it to taste like rubber. From boiling it in coke to “toe-dipping” the octopus three before submersion or to “beat it to death” with a hammer, the tricks are numerous. In general it is easier to work with good quality frozen octopus than with fresh one. I find that if you cook the thing long enough it will eventually get soft. Octopus does shrink considerable when cooking.
1 large bunch of coriander
2 cloves garlic
8 tbsp olive oil
1 onion carved with 6 cloves
2 bay leaves
1. Prepare the octopus for boiling. Frozen ones usually come ready to cook. Boil with the bay leaves and onion. Check tenderness with a fork after 40 minutes and continue to cook as necessary.
2. Once the octopus is cooked remove and let cool down a little. (The cooking water retains quite a lot of flavour and can be used as stock for cooking rice. You can keep the head roughly chopped to add to the rice).
Cut up the arms either whole or thinly sliced along the length, brush with a little olive oil and grill over charcoal turning regularly.
3. Make the dressing by crushing the garlic with a little salt on a mortar and pestle, add roughly chopped coriander and blend everything with olive oil and lemon juice.
4. When the octopus is done (10-15 minutes should do it as the idea is just to finish it with a char-grilled taste) pour the dressing on top and serve immediately with “batatas a murro” (“punched potatoes” – roast small potatoes with skin and sea salt and then punched!)