This is a typical Maltese dish. I came to look into food from Malta after a prominent member of the UK Conservative party insulted the Maltese by saying that their Prime Minister 'should go back to his tiny little island'. How sad is it that members of the UK governing party now feel free to insult other Europeans gratuitously like this - and without the government offering any apologies for it?
On the positive side this has led to me talk to the children about Malta, its geographical position, history, size and culture. It has not been difficult because my bother was on holiday there a few months ago and he could not stop praising the island. We have looked into Maltese recipes, which are great. I have found many good blogs, including a superb one called www.amaltesemouthful.com. So utterly yummy. I tell you, the island may be small...but boy they know how to eat well!!
Best is obviously to follow the authentic recipe in any of the numerous blogs. The best we saw is here: http://www.amaltesemouthful.com/octopus-stew-stuffat-tal-qarnit/ But we made a few changes as we went along. You need:
- an octopus, cut into mouth-bite chunks. If the octopus is fresh you need to tenderise it by hitting it everywhere many times for 3-4 minutes. This is a bit off putting, because normally octopus are sold with their eyes on, so you risk looking like a sadistic person while the eyes of the octopus beg you to stop. The easier alternative is to freeze the octopus when you buy it (when it freezes the muscles contract and then let go, so it becomes tender and there is no need to torture the poor octopus anymore)
- 3 onions, chopped thinly
- 4 garlic cloves (grated)
- 1glass of tomato sauce (see our recipe http://www.mumandsons.com/2011/03/tomato-sauce.html- alternatively used a good passata, or 2 tins of chopped tomatoes )
- 2 handfuls of olives
- 2 teaspoons of small capers
- lemon zest and juice of a lemon
- a glass of white wine
- a tablespoon of parsley, a tablespoon of basil, and the leaves of three springs of thyme.
- 3 tablespoons of olive oil
- a glass of frozen peas.
- more parsley and basil to garnish
- a tin of chickpeas (drained)
Fry the onions in the olive oil under low heat until they are tender. Then add the garlic and after a minute or so the tomato sauce. Then add the octopus, increase the heat to medium and wait for 15 minutes and add the olives, capers, lemon zest, wine and lemon juice. Add the salt, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and let it summer for 40 minutes. Add the peas, let it cook for a further 10 minutes, and finally add the chickpeas, wait for a further 5 minutes, sprinkle the basil and parsley and serve.