Italian Regional Recipes Secondi Piatti: Meat, Fish, Eggs, Cheese

Juniper Berries Flavoured Stewed Octopus

Getting a soft and not chewy octopus takes time, in fact the trick is all in the resting time after cooking octopus: the longer it rests the more tender the octopus will become. Juniper berries then will release even more the aroma.

Serves 4, Preparation time 20 mins, Cooking time 30 min, Resting time 1 hour 1/2

  • 1 kg Octopus (fresh or frozen)
  • 10 juniper berries
  • Black pepper in grains
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 lemon
  • Grated lemon peel
  • 1 sprig of chopped parsley


If you use a fresh octopus: after rinsing and drying it well, place it on a cutting board and cut the bag containing the eyes. Then in the central part, placed under the octopus, you will find the tooth that will be cut away with a knife. Clean the inside of the head and rinse everything.

If you use a frozen octopus: thaw it perfectly by removing it from the freezer the night before and store it in the fridge.

Put plenty of water in a high-sided pan, add juniper berries, few lemon slices, bay leaves and black pepper grains and bring the water to boil.

As soon as the water starts boiling, take the octopus, grasping it by the head, and dip it in the boiling water keeping the head out, pulling the octopus up and dip the tentacles again. Repeat this operation 2-3 times. In this way, the tentacles of the octopus will curl up and look even better. Please note, this practice is only for a scenographic thing.

Cook over a very low flame for 30 minutes maximum, cover with a lid.

Afterwards, you will have to test its cooking: remove the octopus from the water and insert a fork at the base of the head: if it enters without any particular obstruction, octopus is well cooked.

Turn off the heat, cover the pot with a lid and let the octopus rest until it is completely cold, i.e. at least 1 hour, maximum 1 hour and a half during which the octopus will continue to cook thanks to the heat of the cooking water and take on the flavour of the aromas, particularly the juniper berries. In this way the octopus will become very tender.

Then take it out of the pot, cut it into pieces as you prefer, season with a drizzle of Evoo, chopped parsley, grated lemon zest and a pinch of salt.


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