Drowned Baby Octopus – Johnny Di Francesco



Cook Time 50 minutes | Serves 6

Plus cleaning the octopus if doing it yourself. You can ask your fishmonger to gut and clean your octopus but if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty we’ve included the instructions for you too!


  • 1.5kg (3 lb 5 oz) fresh baby octopus
  • 100g (31⁄2 oz) extra virgin olive oil olive oil
  • 750g (1 lb 10 oz) peeled tomato
  • 1 fresh chilli, finely sliced
  • 70g (21⁄2 oz) black Gaeta olives
  • 30g (1 oz) baby capers
  • 2 handfuls chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
  • salt, to taste


To clean the octopus, use a small knife and carefully cut between the head and tentacles of the octopus, just below the eyes. Grasp the body of the octopus and push the beak out and up through the center of the tentacles with your finger. Cut the eyes from the head of the octopus by slicing a small disc off with a sharp knife. Discard the eye section.

To clean the octopus head, carefully slit through one side, avoiding the ink sac and scrape out the inside. Rinse under running water to remove any remaining grit.

Add all the ingredients, except the parsley, to a large pot (preferably a terracotta pot). Cover the pot with baking paper, then cover with the lid. Bring to the boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 45 minutes.

Check the consistency of the dish. If the liquid is still runny, remove the octopus and reduce the liquid to a dark, shiny consistency.

Return the octopus to the dish and warm for 3 minutes. Just before serving, garnish with the parsley.

Note: As the capers and olives may add flavor while cooking, ensure you taste for salt.

Recipe from The Food of Naples by Johnny Di Francesco of 400 Gradi.

Food of Naples – Johnny Di Francesco

In his newest book, Johnny Di Francesco shares his love of traditional Neapolitan food.

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