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Charcoal-grilled octopus and tarama

"This twice-cooked octopus is one of our most popular dishes at Stanbuli," says Kasif. "In Istanbul's traditional meyhanes, the tarama is usually served split and loose, but this version is emulsified, thick and luscious." Start this recipe at least four hours ahead to prepare the octopus, or preferably overnight.

You'll need

1 kg large octopus, cleaned 1 cup (firmly packed) flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve Juice of 1-2 lemons, to taste 1 tsp ground cumin 1 tsp ground pul biber Sweet paprika, to serve   Tarama 50 gm tarama paste 30 gm fine soft white breadcrumbs 1 small onion, finely chopped 1 garlic clove, crushed 50 ml white vinegar Pinch of caster sugar 500 ml (2 cups) canola oil 50 ml olive oil Squeeze of lemon, to taste


  • 01
  • For tarama, process tarama paste with bread, onion, garlic, vinegar, sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor to combine, then add combined oils in a thin steady stream until thick and emulsified (add a little cold water if mixture thickens too much). Add lemon juice, season to taste and pulse to combine. Refrigerate to chill. Tarama will keep refrigerated for about a week.
  • 02
  • Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil. Beat octopus against sink or with a meat mallet to tenderise (10-15 seconds), add to saucepan, reduce heat to low (80C) and poach until very tender (1¼-1½ hours). Drain and refrigerate octopus, uncovered, until gelatinous (at least 4 hours or overnight).
  • 03
  • Burn coals on a charcoal barbecue down to white embers and wait 15 minutes for embers to settle. Grill octopus until charred and smoky (15-20 minutes). Transfer to a board and chop into pieces, then place in a bowl with parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, a good pinch of salt, cumin and chilli. Toss to combine and serve with tarama dusted with sweet paprika and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

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Additional Notes

Aleppo pepper is available from Turkish grocers; if it’s unavailable substitute another ground chilli. Tarama paste is a concentrate made from mullet roe, available in tins from delicatessens and fishmongers.

Drink Suggestion

Petit Pittacum Mencia from Spain – an elegant nose, generous on the palate.

Featured in

Aug 2016

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