One of the best loved fasting recipes in areas of Greece that have access to the sea is stewed octopus. The basic ingredients, apart from the octopus, are onion, wine, olive oil and tomato paste. With the quantities and cooking method differing slightly from place to place, each region has put its own stamp on the dish. It could be called ‘stifado’ (with whole onions), ‘krasato’ (with wine), ‘kokkinisto’ (red with tomatoes), or ‘mageirefto’ (just plain cooked).
In Kranidi, the Laographic Workshop of the Municipality of Ermionida gave us an octopus cooked in the frying pan.
1 octopus (about 1 kg), cleaned and cut into medium-sized pieces; 1 kg onions, coarsely chopped; 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (preferably from Kranidi); 1 cup Mavrodaphne (sweet red wine); 4 tablespoons tomato paste; pepper; a pinch of cinnamon; 4 bay leaves; 1 teaspoon sugar. Add salt to taste but only at the end; the octopus will provide enough.
Heat the oil in a large, deep frying pan and add the octopus and onions. Cook over medium heat until the octopus pieces release their liquid. Add the sugar and cook, stirring, until the onions caramelize. Add the seasonings and deglaze the pan with the wine. As soon as the alcohol evaporates, add the tomato paste diluted in a little water and let boil over medium heat for about 30 minutes, or until the octopus is tender, adding a little water if necessary.
Serve accompanied by Kranidi white wine.
Every bite was bliss.