Octopus Stew Recipe, Health Benefits, Nutritional Value and More
Octopus is relished in various parts of the world. This mystical seafood is considered as an exotic dish served at extravagant parties but also prepared as a hearty meal in common households. Octopus meat is very delicious and versatile to cook with. One such dish is the Octopus Stew. Simmered with various herbs and vegetables, Octopus Stew is appetizing. The best part about octopus stew is this can be made very easily at the comfort of your home.
What is Octopus Stew?
Octopus stew is a dish in which the octopus is cooked at low flame for hours along with potatoes, paprika, tomatoes, herbs and vegetables.
Unlike other seafood, the octopus is simmered on low heat for a long time. This is done to soften the meat and enhance the flavour.
There are different variations of making octopus stew which makes it so versatile.
Octopus can be simmered in tomato gravy for a tangy flavour or served with crispy bread and pasta.
How did Octopus Stew Originate?
Although the exact year of the origination of this dish is unknown, Octopus had been a healthy part of people’s diet in the regions of Korea, Japan, Spain, Malta, Italy, Tunisia, Turkey, Portugal, Mauritius, Maldives and Greece.
According to the Splendid Table, it is believed that Octopus originally originated from Portugal owing to the water bodies surrounding it.
Since water bodies inhibit no boundaries, this dish spread to other regions in the world.
Variations of Octopus Stew
Octopus Stew is prepared in different ways across different regions in the world. We bring you some of the most famously prepared variations from across the globe:
Octopus Stew is relished as a hearty main course in Greece.
The traditional Greek Octopus Stew is prepared by smothering Octopus with wine and simmering it with onions, tomatoes, fragrant herbs and spices.
An interesting combination of fennel leaves, chilli flakes and ground black pepper is used in this Stew.
The dish is served with some Greek bread, fried potatoes and a glass of wine.
In Portugal, Octopus Stew is favourite amongst the people, especially in winters.
Octopus is nicely beaten with a rolling pin to soften the meat. Broiled with onions, tomatoes, garlic and parsley, this dish is simmered in the vessel for about 2 hours.
Octopus requires a longer cooking time to enhance the flavours and tender the meat properly.
You will need a lot of patience to cook this version of the dish but it will be worth it!
One of the most popular dishes in Spain is the Estofat De Pop I Patata which is, Catalan Octopus Stew.
The Spanish variation of Octopus Stew is so simple to cook yet so satisfying. Octopus is cooked for long hours in virgin olive oil along with potatoes, onions, paprika, bay leaves white wine, parsley, mushrooms and garlic.
The flavour is finally enhanced with smoked paprika and sweet paprika.
One interesting method to make the stew thick and rich is by breaking the potatoes into large chunks and letting them simmer with the octopus to release a good amount of starch and soften them.
In Korea, Octopus Stew is called Nakji Jeongol. In the vast Korean cuisine, soups and stews are very popular.
The Octopus Stew is embellished with various kinds of vegetables, chicken or fish and garnished with herbs like cilantro and perilla leaves and served as a large, hearty meal.
The stew is prepared by marinating the octopus and cooking in a soup base. Kimchi and zucchini can be added to make the dish even more healthy and delicious.
5. Caribbean Region
In the Caribbean region, the octopus is stewed in a delicious gravy of butter, onions, white wine (optional), garlic and olive oil.
This version of the dish is not so difficult to prepare but it is ultimately very appealing. The main focus is on tenderising the octopus well.
This is done by chopping the octopus into bite-size pieces, freezing it and then beating it well.
If the octopus is not tenderised well, it might come out rubbery even after the dish is made.
Polpi In Umido, as this dish is called in Italy originated from the Puglia region in South Italy.
This dish is prepared using baby octopus and simmered in low flame for 1-2 hours in the broth.
Tomatoes, honey, garlic, white wine, capers, dill, parsley, chili flakes and black peppers are mixed with the octopus and left to simmer for about 2 hours.
Finally, this irresistible Octopus Stew is served with Italian bread or pasta.
In Malta, Octopus Stew is known as Stuffat Tal-Qarnit.
A traditional Mediterranean style-cooked, this version of Octopus Stew is truly irresistible.
From the beaches and the bay, fishermen catch fresh Octopus which is sold in the large seafood markets.
Special attention is given to clean the Octopus, then the meat is tenderised and frosted before cooking.
Simple vegetables like onions, tomatoes, carrots and potato are put in along with rich spices like thyme, marjoram, mint and basil.
Red wine is popularly used for cooking and to enhance the flavour even further. Maltese add walnuts to make it even more nutritious.
Health Benefits of Octopus Stew
Some of the benefits of eating Octopus Stew are as follows:
1. Good for the heart
A study by WebMD concludes that consuming octopus can be beneficial for the heart.
Octopus is low-calorie meat and rich in vitamins and minerals such as Omega 3, Vitamin K, Vitamin B5, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Iron and Carbohydrates.
Because of the richness of Omega 3 fats and low amount of saturated fats, Octopus is full of healthy fats and anti-inflammatory properties that help in lowering blood pressure and maintain the heartbeat hence, reducing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
2. Helps in maintaining a healthy weight
Octopus are low-calorie seafood. You can undoubtedly add this healthy Octopus Stew in your diet plan.
According to Eat This Much, estimated calorie content of Octopus is around 140 calories according to a portion of 3 ounces.
Because octopuses are rich in proteins and carbohydrates, it helps in building muscles and provides energy to work out so you can maintain your weight.
3. Reduces the risk of cancer
Octopus has anti-cancer properties that can help reduce the risk of various cancers.
According to research done by WebMD, the taurine and vitamin B12 found in octopus helps in protecting the cells that may cause cancer.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is the main cause of cancer which can be supplemented with the consumption of octopus.
4. Aids in depression
According to research by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, consuming octopus can also mitigate the symptoms of depression.
It had shown that the Antidepressant Food Range of consuming Octopus was around 27%.
Eicosapentaenoic acid which is one of the Omega 3 fats has anti-inflammatory properties which helps relieve depression.
It is also because of the decent amounts of Vitamin B5 in the octopus that helps in relieving stress, depression and stimulates healthy hormones in the brain.
5. Prevents early ageing
Deficiency of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C and Vitamin E is one of the reasons for wrinkles and dullness to appear on the skin.
This can be prevented up to a great extent by imbibing octopus in your diet.
These vitamins present in Octopus accelerates in fast repairing of skin cells and slows down the ageing process.
6. Helps in the formation of haemoglobin in the blood
Iron is the main element of the formation of haemoglobin in the blood. Fit Day believes that incorporating Octopus in your diet can fulfil the required amount of Iron needed in a day.
The formation of haemoglobin is especially necessary if you have suffered an injury or loss of blood.
Good content of Iron in the body helps in preventing anaemia, repairs cells, increases brain development and immune health.
7. Promotes hair health
Did you know that consuming octopus can help you get strong and shiny hair?
Because octopuses are rich in protein, they promote healthy hair.
According to Health Benefits Times, the nutritional value of Proteins in 3 ounces of
Octopus is around 50% of the daily value according to the standard 2000 calorie diet intake.
Proteins present in Octopus are responsible for hair growth as well as for repairing damaged hair follicles.
8. Promotes Brain Health
Vitamin B-12 and Phosphorus are one of the main vitamins and minerals to promote brain development, both abundantly present in Octopus.
A balanced amount of phosphorus in the body aids in cognitive development. Vitamin B-12 helps with supporting brain functions, increasing concentration and expanding the ability of brain performance.
An article published by JAMA Network concludes that deficiency of Phosphorus in the body can lead to cognitive impairments and breakdowns increasing the risks of Dementia.
Octopus Stew Recipe
This is a Spanish version of Octopus Stew. This dish is thoroughly simmered in white wine, garlic, onion, ginger, potatoes, celery, tomatoes and various herbs. Estofat De Pop I Patata, as this dish is called in Spain, is a delicious recipe that serves as a one-pot hearty meal and surprisingly, it is very simple to prepare!
Preparation time: 45 minutes Cooking time: 60 minutes Total time: 1 hour 75 minutes Cuisine: Spanish/Catalase
1 large octopus (approx. weighing 1 kg), 2 large diced onion, 1 large cubed tomato (core removed), ½ cup diced celery, 4 tsp virgin olive oil, 3 tsp finely chopped garlic, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp sweet paprika, 2-3 slivers of saffron (optional), 1 cup white wine, 3 bay leaves, 2 cups cubed potatoes, 1 tsp tabasco (optional), ¼ cup chopped parsley, 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, Salt to taste, 1 tsp black pepper
We will prepare this dish into two parts. First, the marination of the octopus and then the preparation of the stew.
To prepare the Octopus:
Begin by boiling the Octopus in water for 10-12 minutes. This will make the octopus soft and lumpy and will also kill the germs. Boiling the octopus makes it easy to handle while cooking. If you are using a baby octopus, reduce the boiling time to 5-6 minutes. Next, cut the octopus into bite-sized pieces. Remove the beak and eyes. It is now time for marination. In a large pan, simmer the octopus along with 2 bay leaves and 1 diced onion. Let it simmer well for 45 minutes. After the octopus is perfectly shrunk and leaves aroma, drain it lightly. Reserve 4 cups of broth which will be added to the stew later on.
To prepare the stew:
Take a large pan and heat 4 teaspoons of virgin olive oil. Next, add onions and garlic and saute them by adding a pinch of salt. When the onions turn translucent, it is time to add the tomatoes, smoked and sweet paprika and celery. Cook for around 4-5 minutes till the tomatoes are soft. Add 1 cup of white wine and a bay leaf. Now, add in 4 cups of the marinated broth and the octopus. Let the stew simmer well for 45 minutes. Finally, add the chunks of potatoes into the stew and let it cook for 15 more minutes. The stew must come out thick and rich. Add in 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp Tabasco, salt to taste and black pepper powder. Garnish the dish with freshly chopped parsley.
Do you Need to Boil Octopus Before Frying?
For easier cooking, it is always recommended to boil the Octopus before frying. This tenderises the meat and softens it preventing the rubbery-hard texture after frying. Boiling also kills the germs from the meat and makes it hygienic. After boiling the Octopus, the process of frying can be quicker, taking only 2-3 minutes.
How Long Do You Need to Cook Octopus?
Unlike most of the other seafood, octopus takes a longer cooking time. However, there are various ways to cook an octopus, whether slow-cooking or using a fast-track method. The best way to cook an Octopus is by slow cooking which involves boiling the octopus for 15-20 minutes after frosting it overnight and thawing it. Cooking the Octopus for a nice long duration, gently simmering it on low heat helps the meat to stay soft and tender and the texture comes out just perfect.
Can you Overcook Octopus?
Overcooking the Octopus is rarely possible even when it is cooked for a long duration. It makes the meat chewy and dry. However, you can notice the change in texture while cooking an octopus. Poke a knife into its tentacles and notice if the knife goes all the way into the thick flesh, it is properly cooked. Octopus can hold a good amount of moisture. Make sure it does not dry up which will mean that it is overcooked.
How do you Make Octopus Tender?
Tenderising the Octopus is a very significant task. Without properly tenderising an Octopus meat, it becomes hard and chewy even after cooking the dish. The best way to tenderise the octopus is to freeze it overnight. Another method suggested by Serious Eats is to massage the tentacles of the octopus with salt for around 15-20 minutes to loosen the flesh. Moreover, thawing and beating the octopus further softens the flesh. Boiling and braising the Octopus begins the process for cooking followed by marinating and grilling/simmering.
How Long Should You Boil an Octopus?
The best way to boil the Octopus well is to boil it in seasoned, salted or plain water and let it simmer for at least 45-60 minutes. Boiling an octopus too soon can leave the meat dry and chewy.
How Can You Cook an Octopus So it is Not Chewy?
Most often, Octopus gets chewy because it is not cooked for a long amount of time. On other times, it can be because the meat is not tenderised well. Beat the octopus well with a rolling pin to soften the flesh and cook it for around an hour or more so that it is completely cooked within. If you want to speed up the process of tenderising the octopus, you can consider blanching the octopus or cooking it for a few minutes in a pressure cooker.
What Can I Eat an Octopus With?
Octopus can be eaten as an appetizer or as a one-pot hearty meal. Octopus has a very intricate flavour that can be enhanced with a simple seasoning of olive oil, butter or herbs. It can be grilled, barbecued, prepared into sushi, broths, stews or fried. It goes well with grilled potatoes, salads, pasta, crispy bread, sauces, boiled vegetables and a glass of wine.
- 1 large octopus (approx. weighing 1 kg)
- 2 large diced onion
- 1 large cubed tomato (core removed)
- ½ cup diced celery
- 4 tsp virgin olive oil
- 3 tsp finely chopped garlic
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 2-3 slivers of saffron (optional)
- 1 cup white wine
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cups cubed potatoes
- 1 tsp Tabasco (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper
To prepare the Octopus
- Begin by boiling the Octopus in water for 10-12 minutes. This will make the octopus soft and lumpy and will also kill the germs. Boiling the octopus makes it easy to handle while cooking. If you are using a baby octopus, reduce the boiling time to 5-6 minutes.
- Next, cut the octopus into bite-sized pieces. Remove the beak and eyes. It is now time for marination.
- In a large pan, simmer the octopus along with 2 bay leaves and 1 diced onion. Let it simmer well for 45 minutes.
- After the octopus is perfectly shrunk and leaves aroma, drain it lightly. Reserve 4 cups of broth which will be added to the stew later on.
To prepare the stew
- Take a large pan and heat 4 teaspoons of virgin olive oil. Next, add onions and garlic and saute them by adding a pinch of salt. When the onions turn translucent, it is time to add the tomatoes, smoked and sweet paprika and celery. Cook for around 4-5 minutes till the tomatoes are soft.
- Add 1 cup of white wine and a bay leaf. Now, add in 4 cups of the marinated broth and the octopus. Let the stew simmer well for 45 minutes.
- Finally, add the chunks of potatoes into the stew and let it cook for 15 more minutes. The stew must come out thick and rich. Add in 2 tsp of fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp Tabasco, salt to taste and black pepper powder.
- Garnish the dish with freshly chopped parsley before serving.
Nutritional Value of Octopus Stew
Nutritional value of Octopus Stew per serving is mentioned below:
|Vitamin A||75 mcg|
|Vitamin C||7 mg|
Calories per serving: 210
Food Grade: A
Octopus is exquisite seafood with lots of health benefits and versatility.
It serves as an excellent dish for get-togethers, parties and even a simple family meal.
This version of Octopus Stew is simple to prepare involving a lot of patience and long hours of cooking.
However, the dish is absolutely worth waiting and will definitely place desirable, savoury flavours on your taste buds.
Anushka is a passionate writer and works at F and B Recipes. She loves poetry and is currently pursuing a degree in media and communications.