Nathan Outlaw’s Seared Octopus, Almond & Sherry Vinegar Bread Sauce


This octopus dish really hits the spot. Nathan takes the classic Spanish dishes, ajo blanco (white gazpacho) and uses it as a bread sauce for the charred octopus

The flavours are great together so give it a go. If you can’t get hold of octopus, large squid can be cooked in the same way, or, even quicker, small raw squid or scallops can be added straight to the barbecue or grill.

• 1 octopus (double sucker species), about 1 kg (defrosted if frozen)
• olive oil, for cooking
• 4 shallots, peeled and chopped
• 5 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
• 2 rosemary sprigs
• 100ml fino or other dry sherry
• 1 lemon, zest finely grated
• sea salt
• freshly ground black pepper

For the almond and sherry vinegar bread sauce:
• 100g whole almonds, blanched and skinned
• 120g good crustless white or wholemeal bread, in chunks
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
• 6 tablespoons sherry vinegar
• 300ml extra virgin olive oil

To garnish:
• a bunch watercress, leaves picked
• a small bunch seedless green grapes, sliced
• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
• 1 tablespoon chopped chives
• olive oil, to drizzle

1 First you need to braise the octopus to tenderise it. Heat a pan large enough to hold the octopus (with a tight-fitting lid) and add a drizzle of olive oil. When hot, add the shallots, garlic and rosemary.
2 Cook for 2 minutes, then add the sherry, followed by the octopus and lemon zest. Put the lid on and cook gently for 1 hour, or until the octopus is tender.
In the meantime, make the bread sauce.
3 Preheat your oven to 190°C. Scatter the almonds on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 5 minutes. Put the bread into a bowl, add water to cover and leave to soak for 5–10 minutes.
4 Put the roasted almonds and garlic into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Squeeze the bread to remove all excess water, then add to the food processor with a good pinch of salt.
5 With the motor running, add the sherry vinegar, followed by the olive oil in a steady stream. Once the oil is all incorporated, taste and add more salt and vinegar if you like. Refrigerate until needed.
6 When the octopus is cooked, lift it out on a tray and leave until cool enough to handle. Cut off and reserve the tentacles, discarding the beak. Slit open the main body and remove the ink sac, stomach and eyes carefully.
7 Cut the body meat into 4 equal pieces. Skewer these and the tentacles in portions. Oil the octopus and season with salt and pepper, then set aside until ready to cook.
Light the barbecue about 30 minutes before you want to cook, or preheat the grill.
8 When the coals are white hot or the grill is ready, carefully place the octopus skewers on the barbecue grid or grill pan and cook for 2–3 minutes on each side until nicely coloured and charred.
9 To serve, share the watercress and octopus between 4 plates. Toss the sliced grapes and chopped herbs together with a drizzle of olive oil and a little salt, then spoon over and around the octopus.
10 Put a spoonful of bread sauce on each plate. Serve hot or cold.

Recipe courtesy of Nathan Outlaw, extracted from Everyday Seafood


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