When I opened my Fish Kitchen in Port Isaac, we put this dish on the menu and it went down a storm. The pickled vegetables are a relatively recent addition – I think they bring the whole thing alive. Conveniently, I share a pub with Sharps’ Brewery (who brew Doom Bar beer), called The Mariners in Rock, and this dish now lives quite happily on the menu there.
Put the octopus into a pan with the beer, bay leaves, thyme and garlic. Pour on enough water to cover and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Skim off any impurities, lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the pickled vegetables. Put the wine vinegar, water and sugar into a pan and heat to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a simmer, season with salt and simmer for 2 minutes. Put the shallots, fennel and carrots into a bowl and pour on the hot pickling liquor. Cover with cling film, pushing it down onto the surface to keep the vegetables submerged.
To cook the mussels and cockles, place a large saucepan (with a tight fitting lid) over a high heat. When hot, add the mussels, cockles and a ladleful of the octopus stock. Put the lid on and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the lid to check if the shellfish are open. If not, put the lid back on and continue to cook, checking every 30 seconds.
When all or most of the shellfish are open, tip the contents of the pan into a colander set over a bowl to catch the juices. Discard any that are unopened. Leave until cool enough to handle, then pick the meat out of the shells. Pour the juices through a muslin-lined sieve into the octopus pan. Refrigerate the shellfish.
When the octopus is cooked, remove it from the hot liquid and leave until cool enough to handle, then slice the tentacles into 3cm pieces.
Strain off the liquor from the veg into a pan and add the same volume of octopus stock. Bring to the boil, skim if necessary, then add the prawns and immediately take off the heat. After 2 minutes, remove the prawns with a slotted spoon; set aside to cool with the octopus. Cool the liquor.
Add the mussels, cockles, octopus, prawns, anchovies and vegetables to the cooled liquor. Mix well, then leave to marinate and pickle overnight.
To serve, drain the seafood and vegetables, reserving the liquor. Season with pepper to taste. Lay on a large platter. Mix 200ml of the pickling liquor with the rapeseed oil and use to dress the salad. Serve with bread.
Recipe taken from Everyday Seafood, Quadrille
By Nathan Outlaw