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Spicy Stewed Octopus

  • 1 hour and 30 minutes
  • Easy
  • First Courses
In this dish, typically found along the Adriatic coast, the octopus is flavored with spicy peperoncino (or chili peppers), giving it an extra kick.
Molise

Ingredients: Per 4 servings

  • 1 lb baby octopuses
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • chili pepper, red to taste
  • 1 ½ oz parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Clean the octopus in salted water and rinse well. Saute in the finely chopped onion in a pan with oil and peperoncino.
Then add the octopus, parsley, and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Cover the pan with a lid and cook over low heat for 2 hours, stirring the octopus from time to time with a wooden spoon.

Add a little water and let evaporate. Serve warm.

Food history

The red peperoncino or spicy chili pepper is a essential ingredient in this dish: polpi in purgatorio (or “octopus in purgatory”). Originally from America, chili peppers have been grown since 5,500 a.c.. They were brought to Europe by Christopher Columbus, who described them in his diary as “spicier than our pepper”. The peperoncino had immediate success in the Old World and especially among the poorer classes of the population thanks to their strong flavor and low-cost due to how easily they can be grown. Because the wealthy did not appreciate their spicy flavor as much as others, the peperoncino eventually gained the nickname “the drug of the poor”, who used them in large quantities to give flavor to bland foods.   

Did you know that...

In the biography of the last Aztec emperor, Montezuma, it says that while he was a prisoner of Cortès he spent his time eating foods flavored with red chili peppers?

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