Octopus Fillets with Rice/Filetes the Polvo com Arroz do Mesmo
This dish is common across the north of Portugal and uses the octopus to provide an intense flavoured stock in which to cook a moist risotto served with long crispy strips fried in a light batter. Octopus is normally boiled before it is used in a dish such as Polvo à Lagareiro in which the octopus is grilled to achieve a crispy texture on the outside while remaining soft on the inside. Since my post on Polvo à Lagareiro the number of tips on how to properly boil an octopus has increased yet again… My favourite is to hold the octopus by its head over a boiling pot of water and dip the end of the tentacles three times (about 10 cm into the water) then finally adding the whole octopus. This is done to achieve a nice curly finish at the end of the tentacles. My new preferred tip is to use an un peeled onion to provide a richer colour and a cork from a wine bottle…
1 2kg octopus
2 onion (1 peeled and finely chopped and 1 with skin)
1 wine cork (must be a product of Portugal)
2 cups of long grain rice
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 bay leaves 1 small dried red chilli (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup finely chopped coriander
For the batter
1 cup flour
salt and white pepper
1. Boil the octopus in unsalted water with the onion (washed but not peeled to give a rich colour to the octopus) for about 40 minutes and then try with a fork. If not yet tender, boil for another 10 minutes. Once it achieves the right texture leave to cool in the water.
2. Once the octopus has cooled down, cut the large tentacles in strips along the length of the tentacle to make good sized fillets. Keep all the trimmings and chop into small pieces for the rice.
3. In a medium pot fry the finely chopped onion with the bay leaves and chilli. When soft, add the chopped garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes then add 6 cups of the octopus stock. 5. Make the batter by mixing the eggs and flour, white pepper, a little salt and water. Start frying the octopus fillets in a large skillet with hot oil. Dip each fillet in batter and then in the oil. Fry for a couple of minutes on each side and remove to a warm plate covered with kitchen paper. Fry all the fillets in batches as you continue to cook the rice.
4. Add the rice to the medium pot, stir occasionally and taste for seasoning. Just before the rice is cooked add the octopus trimmings. The rice should be very moist with the grain maintaining its shape.
5. Add the chopped coriander to the rice and serve immediately.