Elba style boiled octopus


1 octopus weighing about 1kg, 3 litres of water, salt, chili pepper.


Salt the water (three times the amount normally used to boil pasta), add the chillis and bring to the boil.

Using a large fork plunge the octopus in and out three times so the tentacles curl up like the petals of a flower then leave in water and simmer for about half an hour.

Remove from the heat and leave in the water to rest for about 20 minutes.

The locals in Portoferraio add nothing else and eat it simply by sticking a fork into it. Others cut it into small pieces and dress it with oil, lemon juice, salt, parsely and garlic.

In the past many people used to beat the octopus with a rowlock to soften the flesh, but this is more an ancient propitiatory custom rather than a real necessity.

This is probably due to the fact that the shape of an octopus tends to bring sea monsters to mind, so beating it with a piece of wood in some way symbolized man's battle against this strange force of nature.

Photo by Andrea Ferrigno
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