Pickled octopus is homecooked all over the Mediterranean. This pickled octopus recipe is a classic way to make an authentic Greek meze, Italian antipasto, or Spanish tapas. It is best done with pre-cooked octopus, otherwise the finished product will be very, very chewy.
- 1 dozen precooked baby octopi
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 dried or fresh hot chile pepper
- 1 dozen cracked black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon coriander seed
- 2 cups red wine vinegar
- 1 clean, quart-sized canning jar with lid
This is an easy dish to make once you have cooked the octopus.
Once you have the cooked octopi -- and they need not be baby ones, although baby ones are more tender -- all you do is set them in a quart-sized canning jar to rest while you make the pickling brine.
- In a dry saute pan, toast the coriander and the dried chile (do not do this with the fresh chile if you're going that route) and the black pepper over medium-high heat until everything is fragrant.
- Shift all the spices, including the oregano, the bay leaves and the fresh chile if using, into a pot large enough to contain the vinegar. Pour the vinegar over the spices and bring to a boil.
- Once the vinegar is at a boil, turn off the heat and cover. Let it steep until it's room temperature, about an hour or so. Then pour it over the octopi in the jar. Make sure it covers them all; use fresh red wine vinegar if you need more.
- Top everything off with olive oil -- do not let any part of the octopus stick through the top of the oil, or it will rot. Store in the fridge for up to 3 months.
Wait at least a week before you eat them.
They are fantastic with crusty bread and hard liquor or beer, especially on a hot day. Favorite accompaniments? Either ouzo, a Greek anise-flavored liquor, or Italian limoncello over ice.