When Maria Benardis, chef-author-entrepreneur-Greek-Australian extraordinaire, started Greekalicious, she began it as a cooking school in Sydney, focusing on sharing the culinary history and traditions of her family's motherland.
In just a few years, Maria has become an award-winning authority on Greek cuisine, and is now spreading the love online, sharing easy-to-make summer recipes. One of her latest dishes is a sumptuous Greek Style Sweet, Sour and Salty Octopus. The full history and recipe for this dish, which is cooked in an ancient style of cooking on the ‘Skara’ (Greek barbecue), is below... Start grilling!
Greek Style Sweet, Sour and Salty Octopus
This dish uses the Ancient Greek principles of striking a balance between the salty, sweet and sour elements. I use fish sauce for the salt element as was used in ancient Greece. Fish sauce is usually associated with Asian cuisine however fish sauce was used in ancient Greek cuisine particularly in meat dishes.
The ancient Greeks used to manufacture a liquid from fermented fish called “garos”. This was one of the main sauces in ancient times. It is believed that “garos” was created to avoid wasting fish. The Greeks then passed “garos” on to the Romans. It unfortunately does not seem to feature in many Greek dishes today. I still find opportunities to use it when I want to add a salty element to a marinade or sauce.
Serves 4-6 people
1 pound (500 grams) (about 20 pieces) fresh baby octopus, cleaned, gutted and the eyes and beak removed.
½ cup Greek ouzo
The juice of 1 lemon
The zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons fish sauce
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon dry wild oregano
½ teaspoon dry thyme
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
¼ teaspoon chili flakes
¼ cup parsley, finely chopped, garnish
Extra virgin olive oil, garnish
1 lemon cut in wedges, garnish
Place the octopus in a saucepan with half a cup of water over high heat and cover. Bring the octopus to a boil and reduce the heat to medium. Allow the octopus to simmer for about 10 minutes. Take the lid off and have a look to see if the liquid has been released. Simmer for a further 10 minutes until the octopus is tender (checking occasionally to see if there’s enough braising liquid). You may add some more water and continue to braise until the octopus is fork-tender. Let the octopus cool down slightly.
Add all the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl and mix well. Add the octopus to the bowl and mix well so that it is coated with the marinade.
Refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.
Wipe a grill pan or BBQ with olive oil.
Remove octopus from marinade and place on a hot grilling plate on high heat or a BBQ. Cook on both sides until golden brown. The octopus is ready when the tentacles are very curly and crisp.
Place the cooked octopus on a plate, drizzle some olive oil and garnish with the parsley, lemon wedges and serve.