Carolyne Kauser-AbbottFish & SeafoodMain CourseProvencal RecipesTaste

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.

Octopus in Tomato Sauce La Poulpe à la Niçoise

La Poulpe à la Niçoise - Octopus in Tomato Sauce

Carnets de cuisine du Comté de Nice
Like other seafood, the octopus has a season, so those caught in early winter are more tender. However, one way to tenderize the fish is to freeze it for a short period before making this dish. This recipe for octopus à la Niçoise can be eaten hot or cold as an appetizer.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 25 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Cuisine Nissarde, French, Provencal
Servings 8 people


  • 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.

Cooking Step:

  • 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.
Keyword Octopus, Seafood Recipes, Tomato Sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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