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Baby Octopus & Fennel Risotto

With the temperatures dropping a wee bit at the beginning of this week it has encouraged me cook more ‘substantial’ meals, by this I mean risottos, pasta or roasted food which I have steered clear of for the past few months in preference for something lighter and refreshing. I’m not saying it has gone cold but after several months of hot humid weather even a drop to temperatures in their low 20s (centigrade) makes me excited about winter food and baking again. I think P has been craving winter food, he loves stodgy carb loaded food whereas I avoid them. As part of our European trip back home to Europe this year I am taking him to visit where I lived in Frankfurt in June and I just know he is going to be in heaven eating in the Keipern (Bistros) on plates of dumplings and pieces of meat that hardly fit on the plate.

This risotto is hardly stodgy, far from it, it is creamy and light with the fresh lemon and fennel coming through and it didn’t have me toiling for long over the stove top either. The sun is out again this morning though so I imagine we will be back to salads again tonight!

Ingredients – makes 2

  • 8 baby octopus
  • 4 cups stock, approx (chicken, fish or vegetable)
  • 2 cups Aborio rice
  • 2 fennel bulbs, finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • salt and black pepper to season
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 50g freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  • To cook the octopus I use my BBQ with an open flame which prevents the octopus from ‘stewing” and gets nice char grill but you can fry it on a very high heat.
  • Season the octopus with salt & pepper and a little olive oil and slice in half if not very small pieces (for faster cooking). For BBQ cooking place on a skewer and grill on high for 2 minutes, just until cooked. For pan cooking, place a cast iron pan on a high heat and quickly fry the octopus for 2 minutes in batches. Do not put all the octopus in the pan at once as the heat will drop and the octopus will stew in it’s juice and be rubbery.
  • Heat the stock in a pan.
  • Remove the core and fronds from the fennel before slicing thinly.
  • Add the olive oil to a large frying pan over a low heat then the garlic and fennel. Fry gently until the fennel is opaque and soft.
  • Add the rice and turn the heat up to medium and stir the rice so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate before starting to add the hot stock.
  • Turn the heat down again and start adding the stock one ladle at a time, stirring the rice to release the creamy starch. Allowing each ladle of stock to be absorbed before adding the next ladle of stock.
  • It will take about 15-18 minutes for this process, taste the rice to see if it is cooked and soft but still with a slight bite. If you run out of stock before the rice is cooked add boiling water in place of the stock.
  • Remove risotto pan from the heat and stir in the butter, lemon zest, Parmesan & char grilled octopus then place the lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes.
  • Serve immediately with cracked pepper.

And for some exciting news this week, my blog along with a few other fab Kiwi bloggers was mentioned in the NEXT magazine this month. Here is the article and do visit the other bloggers mentioned.

15 Comments Post a comment
  1. Looks lovely and light. Squid is not my favourite in pasta/risotto, but it is when it’s deep fried with herbed and floured (rice+cornflour), eaten hot with Indonesian sambal oelek and steamed greens. Oh My!!

    February 17, 2011
  2. Sound really good! Just wondering, where did you buy baby octopus? I was looking for them for ages

    February 17, 2011
    • peasepudding #

      Hi Olga, I’m not sure if you live in Auckland but you can buy them at Scott’s Seafood or Sea Mart at the Viaduct. Frozen I’m afraid though. Love your blog photos by the way!

      February 18, 2011
  3. Wow. You cook so elegantly. I have to try this! I love octopus and fennel. You are cooking my stuff! GREAT BLOG!

    February 18, 2011
    • peasepudding #

      Thanks Marti! I better keep the right recipes coming!

      February 18, 2011
  4. I love the ideas of flavors int his risotto! And what a beautiful photo!

    February 18, 2011
    • peasepudding #

      Thanks Jessica, you are too kind, risotto always looks a bit mushy but with a strategically placed octopus in front it might take the eye away form it :0)

      February 18, 2011
  5. Hi Alli, Looks gorgeous, love risotto & a huge fan of fennel. Have never cooked octopus…one of my cooking phobias…so easy to over cook. But like the idea of throwing it on to the BBQ.

    February 18, 2011
    • peasepudding #

      I know what you mean about squid and octopus, less cooking is definitely more! It’s only recently after I have mastered it.

      February 18, 2011
  6. I love fennel risotto, I just need to leave out the octopus 🙂

    February 19, 2011
    • peasepudding #

      I think it would be perfect with just fennel too and maybe lots of roasted garlic.

      February 19, 2011
  7. This is lovely! I make risotto pretty often but have never thought of adding octopus — how elegant.

    March 16, 2011
  8. Americans especially are kinda funny about octopus. I love it. And with fennel… sounds like a great combo. Nice picture congrats on being featured.

    March 17, 2011
  9. This looks really good, octopus in a creamy risotto is a good pair

    March 20, 2011

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  1. Baby Octopus & Fennel Risotto Recipe « The Cooking Channel

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