In keeping with this edition’s feature article about Brazilian cuisine, here is a super simple Brazilian recipe that’s easy to prepare. The tapioca crackers take a bit of patience, but they are well worth the wait. It’s also worth noting that I didn’t have to buy these ingredients in a specialist Brazilian retailer. These days it is increasingly easy to find foodstuffs from other cuisines, just hotfoot it down to any Asian or African markets or food halls and you’ll find it all. “Chuchu”, for example, is called “chow-chow” in Asian stores. The French call it chayote, and this is the most commonly accepted name in English. You can find tapioca pearls, used to make the crackers, in most Asian stores. I hope you enjoy the recipe; the final dish is a mouth-watering prospect!
Octopus with tapioca crackers and chayote
For the octopus:
2 tentacles of Octopus
1/2 a white onion
2 tablespoons of coarse salt
To braise the octopus:
100ml of olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1/2 a lemon (to drizzle at the end)
For the tapioca crackers:
60g of tapioca pearls
400ml of water
The chayote and the radish:
1/2 a chayote
1 small round radish
200ml white vinegar
A pinch of salt
30g of sugar
10 crushed peppercorns
For the cabbage:
3 leaves of cabbage
Salt (to taste)
Small leaves to decorate
Cook the tapioca in water, until it becomes translucent. Then, using a sieve, drain off the excess water and cool under a cold tap.
Drain all excess water and spread the gum-like paste thinly into a baking tray and place in a dehydrator. If you don’t have one, leave it out for two nights until completely dry. Once dried through, remove it and break into pieces. Fry in hot oil and season with salt, once cooked.
Place the octopus in the water with the other ingredients listed. Bring to the boil and cook until tender. This should be about 60 minutes after the boil depending on the size of the tentacles.
Pour the olive oil into the pan with the crushed garlic. Season the olive oil over a low heat. Add the octopus delicately. Don’t let it dry out. Season with salt. To finish, squeeze the lemon and drizzle over the octopus.
Dice the chayote into cubes, and the radish into thin slices. Place the other ingredients into a pan and reduce by a third. Turn off the stove. Add the chayote and the radish. The chayote and the radish should be crispy, to bring freshness and crunch to the dish.
Tear the cabbage and fry it in hot oil. Season with salt once hot.
Plating the dish:
Arrange the tapioca crackers and place the octopus on top.
Spread the cabbage around the plate, followed by the chayote and the radish. It is worth drizzling the garlic oil over the octopus with the lemon juice, to ensure it remains moist and tender. However, be extra careful not to wet the tapioca crackers or they will soften and wilt.
Garnish the plate with herbs or small cabbage leaves.