My first recipe featuring octopus! For the occasion, I’m choosing a dish heavily inspired by the Octopus – Fennel / Lime ravioli / Fish soup that I ate at Dubrovnik’s Restaurant 360. All the elements of the original are here; the challenge was mostly in getting the textures and flavors right: the super-tender tentacles cooked sous-vide, the clear but concentrated fish soup, the mysterious citrusy ravioli filling, even the fennel bulb.
Since for the most part I’ve simply attempted to reverse-engineer an existing dish, I don’t have much to say about the creative process today – my sole contribution consists of littleneck clams and their juice. This is just a chance to enjoy a really good soup, containing many ingredients emblematic of the Adriatic coast.
Note that for the pasta, you’ll need a ravioli mold like this one. I like the round filling area within the square ravioli shape and scalloped edges, but you can pick any shape you fancy, as long as it’s roughly the same size as mine. What matters most is that your mold doesn’t have a bottom, else you can be sure that your ravioli will stick to it.
Adriatic Octopus, Lime Ravioli and Fish Soup
Yields 4 servings
Total preparation: 12 hours
Active preparation: 2 hours 15 minutes
130 g peeled onion, thinly sliced
130 g tomato, sliced
10 g peeled garlic, smashed
30 g olive oil
30 g tomato paste
480 g fish heads and bones (e.g., from seabream or branzino)
80 g shrimp heads
800 g water
1/2 bay leaf
5 g fennel fronds
12 saffron stems
1.5 g sweet paprika
5 g salt
- In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, fry the onion, tomato, and garlic in half of the olive oil until soft. Stir in the tomato paste for a minute, then add the remaining oil as well as the fish and shrimp. Cook for a couple minutes, stirring frequently, then pour in the water and season with the bay leaf, fennel fronds, saffron, paprika, and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Pass the soup through a chinois without pressing on the solids too hard (to avoid clouding the soup), then pass again through a 100-micron filter. Transfer to a plastic container and refrigerate overnight.
- Before using, remove the layer of fat that forms on top of the soup. You should have about 520 g of soup left.
Cooked clams and clam juice
4 littleneck clams (about 150 g total)
40 g white wine
10 g peeled shallot, sliced
2 g fennel fronds
- Rinse the clams under cold water, and transfer to a saucepan with the wine, shallot, and fennel fronds. Cover with a lid and cook over medium-high heat, shaking regularly, for about 5 minutes, until all the clams are open.
- Reserve the clams in their shells, and strain all the remaining liquid – now clam juice – through a chinois into a small bowl. Both clams and juice can be kept in the refrigerator for a day.
1 fennel bulb (see below)
10 g fennel fronds
10 g butter
3 g salt
- Cut off the bottom of the fennel bulb and discard the outer layers until you have about 150 g of fennel left. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise, and remove the core.
- Transfer to a sous-vide pouch, and add the fennel fronds, butter, and salt. Cook in a 90 C / 195 F water bath for 1 hour. Let cool and reserve. Do not open the sous-vide pouch.
- The fennel can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for a day.
400 g octopus tentacles, cut into 4 pieces of about 12 cm each
10 g water (see below)
6 g salt (see below)
- Octopus is sold in various forms and you may not have much control over what’s available to you. I’m able to buy a 1.5 kg whole octopus, raw but brined in salted water, so I separate the head, cut off the tentacles, and use only the thickest part; I reserve everything else for other recipes. It’s sometimes possible to buy cooked tentacles; if you go that route, you can skip this step entirely and you’ll need about 300 g of octopus.
- For raw octopus, place the tentacle pieces into a sous-vide pouch. Only add the water and salt if the octopus isn’t already brined in salted water. Vacuum-seal and cook in a 77 C / 170 F water bath for 5 hours. Let cool and reserve. Do not open the sous-vide pouch.
- The octopus can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for a day.
75 g (about 1 ½) eggs
10 g olive oil
1 g salt
160 g AP flour
- Place the eggs, olive oil, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fit with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed, then mix in the flour in two additions, until homogeneous, scraping down the sides with a spatula.
- Transfer to a floured surface and knead by hand for about 3 minutes. If necessary, add a little bit more flour until the dough doesn’t stick. Wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
- The pasta dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day. This recipe makes slightly more than 4 servings; I often cut the remaining dough into fettuccine for another meal.
Lime ravioli filling
125 g water
25 g instant polenta
1.5 g salt
0.3 g piment d’espelette
0.5 g lime zest
70 g ricotta
5 g lime juice
2 g fennel fronds, chopped
- Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the instant polenta, whisking constantly to prevent clumping, and continue cooking for 3 minutes.
- Add the salt, piment d’espelette, lime zest, ricotta, lime juice, and fennel fronds. Combine with a spatula, remove from the heat, and let cool.
- The filling can be kept in the refrigerator for a day.
15 g (about 1) egg yolk
30 g water
AP flour, for dusting
lime ravioli filling
- Combine the egg yolk and water in a small bowl to make an egg wash.
- Using a pasta machine, roll the dough to the thinnest setting, and keep on a floured surface.
- Lay a sheet of dough onto a ravioli mold that makes square ravioli of 5 cm in width. Place about 12 g of the lime filling in each pocket. Brush another sheet of dough with egg wash, and place it on top (egged side down), trying not to form air pockets. Run a rolling pin over the mold, applying extra pressure on all the edges, detach the ravioli, and reserve on a lightly floured tray. Repeat as necessary until you have 12 ravioli.
cooked clams and clam juice
15 g butter
15 g light olive oil
- Reheat the octopus and fennel in their sous-vide pouches in a 63 C / 145 F water bath.
- Reheat the fish soup in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the clams and clam juice, rectify the seasoning, and keep warm.
- Cook the ravioli al dente in salted boiling water, then drain, transfer to a bowl, and toss in butter.
- Take the octopus tentacles out of their pouch, and cut into 12 pieces of about 4 cm each. Heat the olive oil in a pan over high heat, then quickly sear the octopus, suckers side down, until brown. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels.
- Take the fennel out of its pouch, and cut into 4 pieces total.
- Divide the fish soup between 4 bowls. Arrange 3 ravioli and 3 pieces of octopus in each bowl, with 1 clam and 1 piece of fennel in the center. Serve with some fresh bread.