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Salt and pepper baby octopus with roasted garlic and chilli sauce


  • For the octopus

  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying plus a little extra

  • 450g cleaned baby octopus

  • 2 tbsp cornflour

  • 3 tbsp semolina

  • 1 tsp ground paprika

  • 1 medium-hot red chilli, thinly sliced on the diagonal

  • 2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal

  • For the sauce

  • 1 garlic bulb

  • 2 finger chillies

  • 2 tbsp light olive oil

  • 1 small onion, very finely sliced

  • 150ml passatta

  • 2 tsp caster sugar

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 1.

    Heat the oven to 180°c. Leave the skin on the garlic bulb but chop off the top to make it easier to squeeze out the cooked cloves. Place in the oven with the chillies and cook for 30 minutes until the garlic is soft and the chillies soft and roasted.

  • 2.

    Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 190°c. Cut the larger baby octopus bodies into two and separate the tentacles into pairs.

  • 3.

    Heat a heavy-based saucepan then add the light olive oil and the onion. Cook over a low heat until the onion is softened, then add the passatta and the sugar. Cook for 4-5 minutes until reduced and thickened.

  • 4.

    Put the cornflour, semolina, paprika and a teaspoon of salt into a plastic freezer bag. Add the prepared octopus and then toss to coat. Tip out on to a tray, knocking off any excess and leave for 1-2 minutes so that the cornflour mixture becomes slightly damp. This will give a crispier finish.

  • 5.

    When the garlic is soft, squeeze the cloves out into the tomato sauce. Remove the seeds from the roasted chillies and add to the sauce. Cook for a further 2 minutes then blitz to a puree using a hand blender. Keep warm until you are ready to serve.

  • 6.

    Heat the vegetable oil in a deep pan / deep fat fryer. When the oil is hot enough it will sizzle up fiercely when you drop in a small cube of bread. Fry the octopus in batches for a minute to get the most golden crunchiness.

  • 7.

    Meanwhile, heat a little more oil in a wok or frying pan. Quickly sauté the chilli and spring onions for a couple of minutes until sizzling. Season to taste. Drain the squid on kitchen paper and then tip onto a platter. Sprinkle over the chilli mixture to serve, along with the tomato sauce.

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