In the rich panorama of cuisine, octopus Luciana emerges as a gem of the Campania tradition. From its evocative name to its cooking techniques, this dish embodies the essence of a table that can be simple and extraordinary at the same time. But what are the stories and secrets behind this preparation that conquers palates and hearts? And how do you make fish really tender? Let’s discover together the roots, secrets and tricks for cooking octopus Luciana style.
Why Is It Called Luciana Octopus?
There are many stories that revolve around the origins of this delight. It is said that the name “Luciana” derives from a distortion of the term “lucerna”, the lampara used by fishermen to attract octopus. Others maintain that the name is a tribute to a woman, Luciana, who, according to legend, created the first version of this preparation. However, some believe that this specialty originates from the characteristic Santa Lucia neighborhood in Naples, where local fishermen, often labeled “Lucian,” stood out for their skill in catching real octopus.
Tips And Tricks
To bring out the true spirit of Luciana-style octopus, it is essential to use few but high-quality ingredients. The secret? The moderate use of cherry tomatoes and olives gives the dish its distinctive flavor and slow cooking.
We’ve already provided some helpful tips on how to get a perfectly boiled octopus. Although the cooking technique in this case is different, the criteria for choosing the fish remain the same and are fundamental to guarantee an exceptional culinary result. In the fish shop you will therefore have to keep in mind:
- Intense color: actual octopuses have a strong color, tending towards red and not faded.
- Firm consistency: rigid fibers indicate freshness, while it is better to avoid specimens with flaccid flesh, a sign of an old mollusc.
- Curling tentacles: Avoid shellfish with curled tentacles, as they may be old or thawed. The fresh ones have outstretched tentacles.
Octopus Or Baby Octopus?
Octopus is usually giant, and its meat is denser and fuller due to its size. These characteristics make it perfect for dishes that require long cooking times, allowing the heart to soften until it becomes succulent. Octopuses, on the other hand, are the “smaller relatives” and, thanks to their reduced volume, have significantly shorter cooking times. For this dish, you have the freedom to use both. If you opt for octopus, keep in mind that the cooking time will be around twenty minutes.
How To Cook Fish
Prolonged cooking is the key to enhancing the tenderness of the octopus. Typically, slow cooking makes this shellfish incredibly tender, counteracting its natural rubberiness. To turn it, don’t use a fork, but two wooden spoons to avoid piercing the tentacles.
After cooking, the octopus will remain in good condition in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. If you intend to store it for a longer period, the best solution is to freeze it so as to preserve its flavor for several weeks.
Octopus Luciana Style: The Recipe
Wrapped in an aura of mystery and legends about its origins, Luciana octopus is a delight that is difficult to give up. Today, we explore this classic of the Campania tradition, which, combining the simplicity of the ingredients with culinary art, can be easily replicated at home.
Ingredients For 4 People
- 1 kg of octopus
- 650 ml ripe (or peeled) tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon capers
- 8-10 black Gaeta olives
- salt to taste
- 1 sprig of parsley
- 1 chili pepper (optional)
- In a pan with high sides, preferably earthenware, brown the garlic cloves in extra virgin olive oil. Once browned, remove them from the pan.
- Add the tomatoes, previously washed and diced, and cook for about 10 minutes. If you prefer a spicy touch, add chili too.
- Soak the capers in cold water for a few minutes, then rinse them and add them to the sauce. Also, add the pitted black Gaeta olives.
- Continue cooking and then insert the already washed octopus into the pan. Lower the heat and leave to cook for at least an hour, keeping the container covered. Halfway through, turn it over, being careful to use wooden spoons instead of forks.
- Once prepared, please turn off the heat, add the finely chopped parsley and let it rest for at least 10 minutes before serving, hot or warm.