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Octopus Stifado ©

April 2, 2013








As we approach the beginning of lent in Greece, starting this Clean Monday the 14th, I thought I would share with you this delicious recipe. Now if you have never eaten Octopus, you will be in doubt, but believe me this is something to try.


Other popular recipes for this feast:

Homemade Halva.


Bean Salad.



Octopus Stifado ©





6-8 persons





1 medium sized fresh or frozen Octopus. (The smaller the more tender)

( A little vinegar for washing Octopus )

1 kilo baby onions or shallots ( Try to choose them all the same size )

1 stick of cinnamon

4  whole cloves

1 tbs  whole small coriander seeds (Optional)

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary

2 bay leaves

2-4 cloves of garlic

1-2 tbs tomato purée

1 glass of red wine

3 tbs olive oil for frying onions

Salt freshly ground pepper to be added at the end of cooking. ( Octopus is salty already!)



1. If you buy a frozen Octopus, the freezing tenderises the Octopus. If it is fresh, make sure it has been well tenderised by the fisherman. The tentacles should be curled up at the ends and the octopus should tear easily at the tentacle joins. This is why I always buy smaller ones, as they are more tender.

2. De-frost over night at room temperature and wash very thoroughly, especially as sand sometimes remains in the suckers.

3. Remove contents from inside head sack. Cut away eyes, if not already removed. Cut through mouth opening to remove hard beak and mouth section inside. (See photos) Wash thoroughly with vinegar and rinse with cold water.

4. Place whole Octopus in saucepan, together with bay leaves and 1 cm of water covering base. Place lid on top and simmer over medium to high heat until tender. Once the Octopus heats it will change colour from grey to red. Keep an eye that it does not boil dry, ( this can happen very easily!) The Octopus will release water as it cooks. To tenderise requires about 45 minutes. Test at thickest part with the point of a sharp knife, when it is soft and falls off the knife easily, it is ready. The bigger the Octopus the longer the cooking time.

5. Place small onions in bowl and cover with boiling water. As soon a cool enough to handle, peel, pat dry with kitchen paper and fry in a little olive oil, until browned all over. Remove and drain.

6.Once Octopus is tender, remove from saucepan and cut into mouth sized pieces, removing outer skin with suckers, or not, depending on what you like. Some say, “No,” others prefer the meat without the suckers.

7. Return to saucepan, where there should be about a centimetre of juices covering the bottom of your saucepan, add onions and the rest of your spices, rosemary, tomato purée diluted in a little water, red wine, roughly chopped garlic and cook over a gentle heat, for about 3/4 hour, until the surrounding liquid is thick and the onions and Octopus are tender. If you have too much liquid, remove lid and leave to simmer, until sauce has reduced and thickened.

Taste sauce for salt and pepper.

8. Place in warmed serving dish and serve hot along with crusty bread. This can be both a starter or eaten as a main course.




Gather all your ingredients together.



Octopus Stifado ©

Once your Octopus has de-frosted over night at room temperature, or when using a fresh one, remove contents from inside head sack. You can see it here in the centre, in the above photograph.

Octopus Stifado ©

You can see this Octopus is tender, because the ends of the tentacles are curly.


Octopus Stifado ©

The black whole in the centre is the mouth.


Octopus Stifado ©

The mouth contains a hard beak, which you should remove.


Octopus Stifado ©

Cut open and remove hard beak and mouth section.


Octopus Stifado ©

Place in saucepan along with bay leaves. Cook over a medium/high heat. Be careful it doesn’t burn dry!!!! This can happen very easily!


Octopus Stifado ©

As the Octopus cooks, it will changes colour from grey to red and release water.


Octopus Stifado ©

Place small, mouth sized Onions into bowl and cover with boiling water. When cool enough to handle, peel. The ‘soaking’ in boiling water makes it easier to peel them.

Octopus Stifado ©

Fry in olive oil, until browned. Take care not to blacken as it makes sauce bitter!


Octopus Stifado ©

Here the Octopus has been cooking for about 45 minutes. If it is tender when pierced with a sharp knife, remove from heat.


Octopus Stifado ©

Remove Octopus from saucepan and cut into mouth sized pieces. If preferred, remove outer skin along with suckers. It comes away easily. Return Octopus to saucepan.

Octopus Stifado ©

Add spices.


Octopus Stifado ©

Add rosemary and garlic roughly chopped.


Octopus Stifado ©

Add red wine.


Tomato Puree ©

Add 1-2 tbs tomato purée, diluted in a little water. This is a wonderful traditional Greek canning Company, which has been around for as long as I can remember!

Octopus Stifado ©

Add  a little salt and pepper. Simmer over a gentle heat until sauce thickens and onions and Octopus are tender. This can take half to three quarters of an hour.

Octopus Stifado ©

It should end up looking like this.


Octopus Stifado ©

Just delicious!


Octopus Stifado ©

Serve with hot crusty bread!







3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 12, 2014 11:15 am

    Beautiful. Very clear by the step by step explenation with the photos. Thanx a lot


  2. March 11, 2016 1:36 pm

    Reblogged this on What's Cooking In Jane's Kitchen and commented:

    Clean Monday coming up!!!!!
    Greek Easter is on the 1st May !!


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