May 9, 2009

Arroz Con Pulpo (Octopus Paella)

Restaurant: MoVida (Victoria)

Recipe from Chef Frank Camorra

2009 Rating: Number 63, 1 Star

Its been a while since I've cooked something from the top 100 list, so I thought I should really stop being slack and cook something delicious. Earlier this week, while having a relaxed morning tea and doing some light reading, I came across a MoVida recipe in Melbourne Living Magazine. It was one of the recipes from the MoVida book, which I've been meaning to get my hands on. I quickly photocopied the precious page and have decided that this will be the dish I will cook for mothers day.

So here's the recipe

Serves 4-6


1 kg octopus tentacles (about 2 or 3 tentacles), frozen, thawed and drained (see note)
60mL olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
250g sofrito
400g Calasparra rice (see note)
1 handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon Spanish sweet paprika
sea salt flakes to sprinkle


1. To cook the octopus, bring a large saucepan of unsalted water to the boil. Meanwhile, rinse octopus under sold running water. When the water is rapidly boiling, plunge the octopus in for 15 seconds then remove. Allow the water to boil again then repeat the process four times, allowing the water to reach the boil again between each plunge. After the last plunge reduce the heat and leave octopus on a very low, slow simmer for 30-40 minutes. The octopus should be tender and the outside pink layer still intact. Carefully remove the octopus from the water, allow to cool, drain and cut into 1cm slices.

2. Reserve approximately 1 litre of the octopus stock over low heat, as it will be used to make the paella.

3. Heat the olive oil in a 34cm paella pan or large, deep, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Saute the garlic for 30 seconds then add the sofrito and cook for a further minutes. Reduce the heat to low-medium.

4. Add the rice and mix to coat the rice with the sauce, cook for 2 minutes, or until the rice just starts to become translucent.

5. Gradually stir in the reserved octopus stock and increase the heat to medium. From this point onwards, do not stir the paella, as the socorat (crust) needs to form on the bottom of the pan. If the Flame or element doesn't cover the base of the pan, move the pan around during cooking to allow the paella to cook evenly

6. Cook for 10 minutes or until the rice has swollen just a little. Reduce the heat to low - medium and arrange the octopus slices around the top of the paella. Sprinkle with parsley and paprika.

7. Cook for a further 10 minutes the increase the heat to high for 1 minute to form a crust on the bottom of the pan.

8. Remove from the heat, cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rest. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and serve warm.

Note. During freezing, the ice crystals break apart the cell walls and this makes the octopus more tender. Calasparra rice is grown in the village of the same name in the Murcia region of Spain. The plump, round grain absorbs three times its quantity in liquid, but it is not creamy so the grains remain firm.

After I read over the recipe I realised that there was no recipe included for the sofrito. I'm sure that there would be a recipe in the book, but not right here in front of me now. So I did a bit of scouring around. I wanted to remain as close to a MoVida creation as possible so I found another recipe on Gourmet Traveller by Frank himself. Oh good old Gourmet Traveller.

SOFRITO (From Movida recipe for Rice with chicken and runner beans (Arroz de perol) which appeared on the Gourmet Traveller website

Cooking Time
Prep time 15 mins,
cook 45 mins

1.6 kg chicken or rabbit, cut into 12 pieces
80 ml (1/3 cup) olive oil
onions, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, finely chopped
1 green capsicum, finely chopped
5 tomatoes, peeled and finely chopped


1. Thoroughly season chicken or rabbit pieces with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2. Heat olive oil in a perol (see note) or large heavy-based casserole, add chicken pieces and brown for 4 minutes on each side, then remove and cover with foil. Add onion to perol and cook for 10 minutes or until soft but not coloured, then add capsicum and cook for 10 minutes or until soft. Add tomato and cook for another 15 minutes. (This is called sofrito; cooking it slowly and gently for a long time intensifies the flavour and is the key to all good Spanish rice dishes.)

NOTE: A perol is a traditional Spanish pan with deep sides and rounded edges, available from Spanish delicatessens and specialist cookware stores.

Fingers crossed everything turns out well and hopefully mum will love it, stay tuned for the Results!


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

This sounds very interesting and much easier to do and with less ingredients than other paella I've tried. Thanks Maria!

Miss Honey said...

Oh wow, will be watching out for the results! Am heading to melb in the middle of the year for a bit of rnr, think I might pop into Movida, so timing of post is fabulous for me!

Arwen from Hoglet K said...

Wow, the octopus cooking sounds complex - hopefully it will yield a beautifully tender result. I hope your mum likes it!

Rilsta said...

Waiting to see the results - I'm sure your mum will love it!

Anita said...

I'm sure your mum loved those dishes - lucky her :)

Maria@TheGourmetChallenge said...

Hi Lorraine - The recipe really struck a cord with me, very intriguing way of cooking octopus. Hope it turns out well.

Hi Miss Honey - Oh MoVida, how I love it so. Theres only one thing I hate about it, and that the waiting time for booking, always at least 4 weeks out. At least you can just stop in at MoVida next door.

Hi Arwen - fingers crossed mum will like it

Hi Rilsta - I should right the results tonight, if I dont get caught up

Hi Anita - She is a lucky lady, with me as her daughter! lol :P