Octopus in Tomato Sauce La Poulpe à la Niçoise
Among Nice’s many attractions are its Mediterranean location and the fresh seafood. Octopus (la pouple) is one ingredient that often features in Niçoise dishes. La pouple à la Niçoise was a favourite of the local fisherman mentioned by Tobias Smollett in 1762. However, the recipe has likely evolved since that time to more refined versions.
The recipe for la pouple à la Niçoise comes from Carnets de cuisine du Comté de Nice, a cookbook and a tribute to the essence of Cuisine Nissarde sharing food with family and friends. The recipe below was translated and published with the permission of the Office de Tourisme Métropolitain Nice Côte d’Azur. Available in French only, you can find Carnets de cuisine du Comté de Nice online at Amazon or the tourist office in Nice, France.
La Poulpe à la Niçoise - Octopus in Tomato Sauce
- 2 to 3 young Octopuses about 1.5 kg
- glass of Branda Liqueur eau de vie de mare,
- 200 ml White Wine
- 3 medium Onions
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 1 kg Fresh Tomatoes canned
- 1 sprig of Thyme
- 1 sprig of Rosemary
- 1-2 Bay Leaves make sure to remove these before serving
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- chili pepper or espelette pepper
Prepare the Octopus:
- Beat the octopus to soften the fibres (or put it in the freezer).
- Clean the octopus and remove all undesirable parts (eyes, beak, skin). Set aside the ink pouch, and clean the suction cups.
- Wash the octopus with plenty of water and cut the head into strips and the tentacles into 2 cm pieces. Some people peel the octopus. This is not necessary if it is still young.
- Blanch the octopus for about 10 minutes and drain.
Prepare the Tomato Sauce:
- Sweat the chopped onions and crushed garlic in a small stock pot with a tablespoon of olive oil.
- Cut the tomatoes into small cubes and place them in boiling water for a few minutes. Stop the cooking by dumping them in an ice bath. Remove the outer skin and seeds. Cut the tomatoes into small pieces and add them to the stock pot, together with the thyme, rosemary and bay leaf.
- Season with salt and pepper and cook over medium heat.
- When the tomato sauce has been reduced, remove the herbs, and pass the sauce through a medium grinder.
- Heat a frying pan over low heat, place the wiped and floured octopus on top and brown in the hot oil. Deglaze with the branda and flambé.
- Pour the tomato sauce over the octopus, and add white wine and a pinch of chili pepper. Adjust the seasoning. Reduce for 10 minutes and then simmer for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to blend.
- The octopus is cooked to perfection if a fork goes into it without difficulty.
- Serve with white rice and grated Parmesan cheese.