Russell: Octopuses aren't something your fishmonger will necessarily have as a matter of course. You might have to ask him in advance so that he can order one for you. You need a small beast for this recipe, probably about the size of a grapefruit, and you need to soften him up. You do this simply by freezing and then thawing the octopus. This breaks down the toughness in the cellular structure of the flesh. Or buy one already frozen.
1 medium octopus
1 fennel bulb, cut in half
1 onion, cut in half
2 celery stalks, cut roughly
A handful of roughly chopped parsley stalks
3 medium waxy potatoes, peeled
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1tsp chilli flakes
A handful of chopped parsley
Flaky sea salt
Ground black pepper
4tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1tbsp lemon juice
In a very large pan, boil the octopus in unseasoned water on a medium heat with the fennel, onion, parsley stalks and celery until tender enough to push a fork easily through the flesh. This should take no more than one hour. Remove from the cooking water and allow it to cool.
Cut the cooked, cooled octopus into bite-sized pieces, discarding the eyes, beak and the mush inside the head. Once the pieces are cut, you can rinse in clean water.
Cut the peeled potatoes into bite-sized pieces and boil. Be careful not to overcook – they should not disintegrate.
In a large mixing bowl, gently combine the octopus and potatoes with the garlic, parsley and chilli flakes. Dress with salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice.
Transfer to a large serving plate and cover with clingfilm. You can then set it aside in your fridge and when you are ready to serve, put it in a microwave on full for 30 seconds so that the potatoes and octopus gain a little warmth.