Chef's Recipes

Charcoal-grilled octopus and tarama

"This twice-cooked octopus is one of our most popular dishes at Stanbuli," says Stanbuli chef Ibrahim Kasif. "In Istanbul's traditional meyhanes, the tarama is usually served split and loose, but this version is emulsified, thick and luscious."

  • 40 mins preparation
  • 2 hrs cooking plus chilling
Charcoal-grilled octopus and tarama (Ahtapot izgara)
Charcoal-grilled octopus and tarama (Ahtapot izgara)

"This twice-cooked octopus is one of our most popular dishes at Stanbuli," says chef Ibrahim 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.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg large octopus, cleaned
  • 1 cup 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 (Aleppo pepper; see note)
  • 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 canola oil (2 cups)
  • 50 ml olive oil
  • Squeeze of lemon, to taste

Method

Main
  • 1
    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.
  • 2
    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).
  • 3
    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.

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. Drink suggestion by Joe Valore