Maltese octopus stew

I came across a similar recipe in one of the restaurants in St. Julian’s on Malta. Its sweet and sour combination of flavors seems to be derived from the famous Sicilian caponata, which is also popular in the Maltese cuisine. The stew was served with potatoes so that is how I prepared it, but  it would also go nicely with rice.


1 kg / 2lb frozen octopus

1 bunch parsley

1 head garlic

Handful of raisins

Handful of pine nuts

Olive oil

½ cup red wine

1 tbsp. capers

½ cup olives

¼ cup wine vinegar

2 tbsp. sugar

½ cup canned tomatoes

½ cup breadcrumbs

Cooking instructions:

Thaw the octopus (if not fresh), clean if necessary and rinse under cold water. Then using a sharp knife cut it into pieces. 

Soak the raisins in boiling water and toast the pine nuts.

Heat some olive oil, then sauté half of the chopped green parsley and all of the garlic. Add the octopus to the pan and continue cooking until the octopus releases water and most of the liquid evaporates. This will take about 30 minutes. Next add the wine, raisins with the liquid they were soaked in, capers, olives, wine vinegar and tomato paste. Stir and let everything cook for 5-10 minutes.  Do not add salt; the dish should be salty enough from the ingredients used.

Finally, when the octopus is done, add the sugar, toasted nuts, and breadcrumbs. Stir, bring everything to a boil; then turn the heat off, cover the pan and let the stew stand for at least 60 minutes before serving. The chilling time is necessary for the flavors to blend and enhance the dish. You might need to reheat it to serve it warm, garnished with the remaining green parsley. 

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