Baby octopus are the kind of beast that would have some people squealing "ewww!". They're not pretty things, being all tentacles attached to a little bulbous sack, but they are a pleasure to eat. When cooked properly, they're tender and flavoursome with just a hint of crunch from the tentacles.
When I found a big (I mean big) bag of these frozen baby octopus in the freezer of a Chinese supermarket last week for a mere £3.70, I almost woopah-ed in delight and I went home a happy girl. I took a handful out this morning to defrost and spent a good 7 hours at work thinking about what to do with them. In the end, I decided to do something simple. I haven't cooked baby octopus before, and I didn't want to spend a lengthy evening making something that could potentially be a disaster.
Happily enough, it wasn't. This Puttanesca sauce worked really well with it. The robust flavours of the anchovies, chilli, garlic and the freshness of the parsley worked beautifully with the octopus - shell-shaped pasta was a good recepticle, though I wonder perhaps if Orecchiette might have been better than Conchiglie.
Baby Octopus Puttanesca
200gr pasta shapes
8 baby octopus, defrosted
2 anchovies (the tinned ones in oil), chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Large pinch of chilli flakes
1 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
2 tbsp black olives, chopped roughly
A handful of parsley
1 tin of peeled plum tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
Simmer the octopus in water for 20 mins. Meanwhile, fry the anchovies, garlic and chilli flakes in some oil until the anchovies have dissolved. Add the capers, black olives, and the tomatoes chopped roughly. Add the tomato paste and simmer for 15 minutes until thickened. Put the pasta on to cook. Drain the octopus, rinse under cold water and add to the Puttanesca sauce. Carry on simmering on a low heat until the pasta is done, and then stir the pasta through.
Garnish with chopped parsley, taste for seasoning and eat with gusto. I served it with some garlic-braised courgettes. Braised lettuce or just a side salad would work equally well.