Daniele Usai’s Braised Octopus With Sour Cherries

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Chef Daniele Usai infuses his octopus recipe with plenty of flavour by using a braising liquid of sharp sour cherry juice and fragrant fennel, hibiscus and cardamom


Ingredients
For the braised octopus:
• 1 octopus

• 200ml of cherry juice, sour
• 2 sprigs of wild fennel
• 6 hibiscus flowers
• 6 cardamom pods
• olive oil

For the rosemary smoke:
• 1 bunch of rosemary, chopped
• 20g of wood chips, from a whiskey barrel
To serve:
• 80g of sour cream
• 16 cherries, in brandy
• purple radish cress, to garnish

Method
1 Start by preparing the octopus. Clean the octopus well and cut open the head to allow you to carefully remove the entrails.
2 Rinse well with cold water then place the octopus in the freezer for 24 hours to help break down the tough fibres before cooking.

3 After the 24 hours is up, remove from the freezer and place in a large pan of salted water.
4 Add half of the sour cherry juice, the wild fennel sprigs, hibiscus flowers and cardamom pods. Bring the liquid to the boil then turn the heat down slightly to a gentle simmer.
5 Braise for 2 hours until the octopus is cooked through – you should be able to remove the beak easily by inserting a fork underneath it and gently pulling out.
6 Allow to cool in the cooking liquid then remove and separate out the tentacles.
7 Lay out a double layer of cling film on a flat surface. Line up the tentacles next to each other horizontally across the cling film, almost overlapping.
8 Roll up the cling film to create a thick sausage shape of the tentacles, squeezing tightly to remove as much air as possible.
10 Once set, use a very sharp knife to cut 3cm thick medallions of the octopus and remove the cling film layer. Heat a frying pan over a moderate heat with a little oil and add the medallions. Fry until golden brown on both sides.
11 To serve, divide the remaining 100ml of sour cherry juice between the serving dishes and top with one of the octopus medallions.
12 Pipe or spoon over a few dots of sour cream and garnish with the brandied cherries and shiso leaves.

13 To smoke the dish, place the wood chips and chopped rosemary into a smoking gun. Using a cloche to cover the plates, add the smoke and leave for 40 seconds before serving.

Recipe courtesy of Daniele Usai

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