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Octopus in red wine vinegar

Angela Clutton

Tender, meaty octopus nestled upon salad leaves to serve as part of a Greek mezze feast

Recipe Meta


5 mins


1¼-1 ½ hours (plus 6 hours chilling)






  • 1kg octopus (cleaned by the fishmonger so it is ready for cooking)
  • 100ml vermouth
  • 150ml white wine vinegar
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 100ml red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 3 handfuls of salad leaves of your choice


Blanch the octopus to tenderise it: bring a large pan of water to the boil, lower the octopus into it for 1 min, then lift out and refresh in cold water. Repeat three times, with fresh water each time. You will see the tentacles curl up with each immersion in the hot water, then relax in the cold. Clean the pan thoroughly if you want to use it for the rest of the recipe, as there may be scum on the sides.

Put the vermouth, white wine vinegar, orange juice and bay leaves into a large pan. Bring to a simmer, then add the octopus. Cover and gently cook for 45 mins–1 hour. It is ready when tender to the prick of a fork.

Remove the octopus from the poaching liquid, retaining 50ml liquid and discarding the rest. If you would like to give your octopus a bit of ‘charred’ colour, then quickly put it under the grill, or return it to the now-empty pan it cooked in for 30 secs each side. Afterwards, charred or not, cut the tentacles off and put them in a bowl.

Mix together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano, garlic and the reserved 50ml poaching liquid. Season and pour this over the octopus tentacles – they should be just about submerged. Cover and chill for 6 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.

When you are ready to serve, remove the octopus from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Arrange the salad leaves on a serving plate, then lift the octopus pieces out of the marinade and arrange on top of the leaves. Drizzle over 3 tbsp or so of the marinade and serve.

ALTERNATIVE: The white wine vinegar used for poaching can be any kind of basic vinegar but for the marinade, go for an interesting, bright – but not too heavy – red wine vinegar such as the cabernet-sauvignon at Brindisa.

Image: Kim Lightbody

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