The smaller octopus can be cooked straight after being caught but the larger ones need to be tenderised. Customarily, this is done by bashing the legs against the side of the boat or, in modern times, by tumbling in a small cement mixer with some smooth stones.
1 large octopus weighing about 2.5kg, head removed
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
1 lemon, washed and cut in half
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 chillies, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
Juice of a lemon
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
To prepare octopus, ask your fishmonger to remove the head and make sure the "beak" (the black-brown interlocking cartilage just inside the mouth) has been removed. Place octopus whole in a pot and cover with cold water. Add onion, carrot, celery and halved lemon. Bring to boil and then turn down heat to simmer for an hour or so until octopus is tender. Remove from water and let sit in the sink for about 5-6 minutes. Before it cools, gather tentacles together and wrap octopus tightly into a log using cling wrap. Refrigerate overnight so that it is bound by its natural gelatine. To serve, mix garlic, chillies, parsley, lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Unwrap octopus and, using a sharp knife, cut 1cm-thick slices. Serve with dressing.