I’ve always wanted to cook an octopus at home, so this weekend I went ahead and got one at the local fish market. Living in Mombasa makes it easier to finding fresh “pweza”. I got mine at the Likoni ferry fish shops. The best time to finding fresh octopus at the market is from10A.m to noon. That’s when the tides are low and fishermen are able to find them easily from the coral.
The octopus is not an uncommon dish at the coast. In Likoni and the South coast, this special delicacy is prepared in many homes and a few roadside restaurants. But still, you will find that many people are uninterested in it or have no idea where to get it. How to cook it is also a problem to many.
Properly cooked octopus is well known for its delicious tender texture, it is also a very nutritious food, with a high source of vitamins and minerals! It is a lean protein source and low in fat.
I asked the fish monger about this and he was happy to prepare and wash the octopus for me. When I got home, I did not like the head so I sliced it off, removed the beak and gave the “pweza” an extra cleaning with running tap water.
Cooking the Octopus
I was lucky I had a cheerful fish monger who was glad to share a few recipes on how to cook my octopus. What I gathered from him and from reading other sources is that you must tenderize the meat first before the cooking process begins. A way of doing this would be by beating it with a kitchen mallet (whatever you can find) or boiling it. I chose to boil it.
Using a sufuria large enough to submerge the octopus, I let the water come to a boil with enough salt. Then I dipped the octopus in the boiling water for 10 sec and removed it out for 3 seconds. I did this 3 times. This repeated hot and cold blanching process was very important as it tenderized the meat. Next, I placed the octopus in the boiling water (including my seasoning of ginger and garlic) and let it boil for 50min.
Cooking the octopus is very easy. If you have cooked beef, you should have no problem cooking “pweza”. The process is almost identical.
When I was sure that the octopus had cooked to my liking, I removed it from the boiling water and let it cool a bit. I then cut it to manageable sizes just as you would do when cooking beef. I had chosen to do a stir fry (from this point on you can choose to cook how you want your octopus to be; roast, stew, soup?)
I poured a little vegetable oil on the pan and let the oil heat up. I added the octopus and fried it to a brown. At this point the aroma filling the kitchen was irresistible 🙂 Next, I added the onions and continued frying till they were soft. I added green hot chilli to taste, green capsicum and served.