Sometimes experiments yield wonderful results. This Spicy Baby Octopus Stew, done without a recipe, turned out absolutely tender and incredibly flavorful and delicious. Perfect with lots of white rice. The surprise find of fresh baby octopuses at the Carbon market here, and the reasonably good but not slam dunk first recipe of grilled baby octopi salad here, were the set-up for this stew. Cooked totally by instinct, I can’t even tell you how much of each ingredient I used since I wasn’t measuring… :)
Start with some cleaned fresh baby octopuses (I used about a kilo worth). In a pan over medium heat, add several tablespoons of olive oil, some chopped garlic, some sliced onions and saute for a minute or two until they are soft and fragrant. Next I added several chopped siling labuyo and sauteed for a few more seconds (if you think the chilies are hot, don’t use too many as the spiciness can be adjusted a little later in the cooking process). Then I increased the heat and added the octopus, and don’t be surprised if it gives off quite a bit of liquid. After a few minutes, I added about 1 cup of red wine (white wine might be better, but this worked surprisingly well) and let that simmer for several minutes to reduce and burn off the alcohol. Next, I added two small tins of chopped plum tomatoes, a bit of dried oregano and thyme, a bay leaf or two, and let this simmer gently for some 30 minutes or so. Somewhere along the way, I added sliced red capsicum for sweetness. Then I added some salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste. Keep cooking until it is nice and tender.
After 45 minutes total cooking time, the octopus was soft and the sauce rich and spicy. If you had some fresh herbs like Italian parsley, chop them up and sprinkle on the stew just before serving. This was delicious… the broth substantial, hearty and spicy. The red peppers added just a hint of sweetness. The entire platter was wiped out. :)