I am very lucky to have the best brother in the world, my second best friend as I always say. We’ve shared many happy moments together and the memories most vivid are those when we went together to Pirofani. Pirofani is a special kind of night fishing where two people have to work very closely together. With this method my brother and I caught many octopuses. It is impossible for me to see an octopus and not feel a wave of nostalgia come over me.
When we go to Pirofani the fishing boat has a powerful light attached to its front. While I have the simple job of steering the fishing boat or row it along the coast, my brother is the specialist. He stands with a Kamaki; a long fishing spear, that he uses to catch any fish that appear in the powerful light.
Spearfishing really requires special skills to be able to catch any fish. My brother happens to be one of the best spear fishermen of Poros. With a little bit of luck and a lot of his skill, we would almost always bring home a nice octopus from our nightly fishing expeditions.
Here is a very special recipe with octopus: Octopus Kleftiko. This dish is a starter, simple to make and really delicious. What is very unusual about it is the preparation method, you will see why…
First have your star anise, coriander seeds and allspice ready.
Preparing the octopus
Cut 3 pieces of baking parchment and place them one on top of the other. Lay the paper in a roasting tray, with one half on the base of the tray and the other half hanging over the edge. Place the octopus on to the paper. Add the garlic heads cut in half, sprinkle with the herbs and all the spices, the lemon juice and the olive oil and season it with salt and pepper.
Seal the octopus
Bring the second half of the paper over the octopus and fold over the edges, to seal the octopus inside. You can tie a bow around it if you like. As a rule of thumb, roast for 40 minutes in the oven with an additional 20 minutes per kilo of octopus. When you remove the Octopus Kleftiko from the oven, let it rest for 30 minutes.
Fresh oregano and rosemary
I love this method of cooking; Kleftiko. You prepare your ingredients, put it in the oven, and wait while you drink wine or ouzo. Unpeeled garlic, fresh oregano and rosemary are the essential ingredients. Time is the secret ingredient. For the wrapping up we actually used old newspapers until a decade ago. We had to stop doing this for obvious reasons. My father still thinks the taste isn’t the same as it was back in his day.
I also make chicken, fish and lamb Kleftiko, but for me the octopus Kleftiko is the most exciting version of this dish. It does require special attention as you have to be very careful with your cooking time. When it’s time to open the parcel it’s such a joy to see the beautiful result and smell the aromas of the fresh herbs, spices and garlic. I like to cut the octopus in pieces and serve it with skewers.
Take it to the sea
This may be the most delicious octopus that I have ever tasted. It’s juicy, tender and smells fantastic. Of course the best way to eat this special dish is to take it to the sea and enjoy it with a glass of ouzo. I recommend ouzo from Lesbos with ice, a perfect combination! Yamas!!