Cretan Octopus Stew with Fennel and Green Olives
Fennel coupled with octopus is one of the classic combinations of the Cretan table. This recipe calls for wild fennel leaves, which are not readily available but can be substituted with dried fennel seed.
- 1 ½ kg octopus
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 6-8 scallions, cut into thin rounds
- 1 bunch wild fennel , coarsely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2/3 cup Nafplion cracked green olives, rinsed and pitted
- salt, to taste
With a sharp knife, cut away the head from the octopus.
Squeeze out the mouthpiece and discard.
Place the octopus in a medium-sized stewing or soup pot.
Cover and cook over the lowest possible heat, until octopus turns bright pink and softens up, about 30-40 minutes.
The octopus should exude enough of its own liquid to keep it from drying out, but add water to the pot if necessary to keep the octopus from burning.
Remove octopus with its juices and set aside for a few minutes, to cool slightly.
Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in the same pot and add the scallions, stirring for a few minutes until translucent.
Cut the tentacles of the octopus into two-to-three inch pieces and cut the octopus' center into chunks.
Add garlic to the pot, then the octopus and chopped wild fennel.
Pour in the wine and pepper.
Cover and simmer over very low heat for about one hour, adding water or more wine (to taste) if necessary.
The octopus will be done when it is very tender.
Five minutes before removing from heat, add olives.
Taste and season with salt as desired.