Greek Octopus Pilaf with Sancerre

Aww, I just missed my train to Athens. It was 11 PM in the City of Thesaloniki in Northern Greece and the next train wasn’t coming until 4 AM. I decided to have some coffee and read a book in the train station while waiting for the next train. When I sat on a chair, a Greek man approached me and offered me accommodations. He said, “I’m a medical doctor. Here is my ID. My family has a small bed & breakfast right outside the train station, and right now I have two girls from Canada and Australia staying in my place. Do you know that the train station closes at midnight? You can’t stay here. It’s not safe for a young woman like you to get kicked out to the street.” He seemed legitimate, so, I decided to check out his B&B.

When I walked into his place, I thought it was odd to see no other guests. I asked, “Where are Canadian & Australian?”. He said, “They just left”. I asked, “Where is the room?”. He said, “If you sleep right next to my bed in this room (like a dorm), I will give you a $5 off”. I said “No thank you. Show me a shower.” He said, “The shower is attached to my room”. And, he had a nerve to show me a see-through sliding door to the shower. Was he freaking kidding me? I said, “I don’t need to take a shower. Show me a private room.” He took me to another room upstairs. Upon entering, I started inspecting the room to make sure that I could lock it at night. But, the security bolt wasn’t working, so anybody could get into the room with a spare key. Finally, I realized that his place wasn’t safer than being out on the street at midnight alone. I quickly packed up my stuffs and started sneaking out of his place.

A couple of minutes later, I felt a strong cold hand grabbing my neck from the back. It was him. He asked, “Where are you going?” with a stern look on his face. I started screaming at him about what a liar he was, how it wasn’t a legitimate B&B after all. I pushed him and started walking away very fast. It was so dark that I couldn’t see anything on the street. All I heard was his footsteps following me in the dark and my heartbeat ticking faster than the bomb. I thought I was going to die that night. Suddenly, I saw a glimpse of hope, a group of young people walking on the street. I immediately ran towards them screaming, “He is raping me!”. The locals saved me and safely got me back to the train station. What a night it was. The next day when I saw local fishermen catching an octopus, I couldn’t help thinking how nice it would have been to have had a bladder full of ink like the octopus so I could have splashed a thick black stream of ink into the rape doctor’s face before running away. Today I’m pounding octopus with a meat hammer (as if I were pounding his head) to make Greek octopus pilaf.

First, I skin 2.5 lbs of tomato and puree in a food processor. Separately, I heat a ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil in a cast iron pot and sauté 2 onions (chopped) & 4 garlic cloves (minced) until golden. Then I add 3 lbs octopus (pounded & cut into bite sizes), 2 ½ cups basmati rice (16 oz), 1 Tablespoon sea salt and some fresh ground black pepper to the pot and cook for 15 minutes. Then, I add 4 cups of pureed fresh tomato and juice of a half lemon to the mixture and boil for 5 minutes. Lastly, I cover the pot and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes and garnish with fresh oregano before serving.

I’m pairing the Greek Octopus Pilaf with a 2006 Jean-Max Roger Sancerre from Loire Valley in France. Sancerre is 100% Sauvignon Blanc made with no oak aging. This light, dry white wine has grassy herbaceous note with lemon, green olives & gooseberry flavors. The wine highlights flavors of lemon, olive oil & tomato of the dish, while bringing out the delicate flavor of “meaty & juicy” octopus in the dish. It’s perfect for the mild, sweet, tangy Greek octopus pilaf.

So, whenever you feel like pounding something or someone, pick up a fresh octopus and pound with a meat hammer until it starts shredding. Your stress will melt away, and so will the chewy, rubbery texture of the octopus. Enjoy the discovery of the juicy, succulent octopus pilaf with a pairing of delicious Sancerre / Sauvignon Blanc. Happy cooking!

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