Canned Octopus with Saffron Rice

Octopus with saffron rice
I developed this recipe for a contest sponsored by a chain of hotels across America. The challenge was to create a simple dish that could be cooked in any of their kitchens with limited equipment and time constraints in mind. This was a perfect challenge because I am use to spending time on the road and I don’t always have extra money to spend, nor the time or equipment necessary for creating an epic meal. However, there is no need to sacrifice quality when traveling. This dish is a seemingly simple yet an elegant riff on the Portuguese dish known as Polvo Assado Com Arroz No Forno. We can’t braise the Octopus like the Portuguese, but a quick sauté in the onion and garlic oil give the octopus a quick flavor boost. The rest of these ingredients while basic are crucial to providing deep lively fresh flavors.

This is a deceptively fresh and flavorful dish. It is also very quick and inexpensive to prepare. For best results on a budget try to find Vigo brand Octopus. This is a Spanish canned octopus, and for the price it's pretty good. The only somewhat expensive item is saffron and only a small pinch of saffron threads is required, they give a wonderful color and essence to this dish. The equipment required for replicating this dish are a sharp knife, bowl, mug, microwave, shot glass or ¼ measuring cup, zester(Optional) stove top, and saucepan.

Saffron water

Canned Octopus with Saffron Rice

  • 1 (10 oz) Veetee brand microwavable basmati rice
  • 1 (4 oz) Vigo brand canned octopus in soy and olive oil
  • Pinch of Saffron
  • 1/2 White onion
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 4 T Fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 Lemon
  • salt, pepper, and smoked paprika to taste
Cooking Directions
  1. Microwave water in a microwave safe dish or mug until water boils; usually 3 minutes. Pour water into a shot glass or ¼ cup where the saffron threads sit. let saffron threads steep while the rest of the dish is prepared.
  2. Follow instructions to microwave Basmati rice and begin.
  3. Medium dice your onion and mince garlic then set aside.
  4. Open Can of Octopus separate the Octopus and Oil. Wiping off the oil on the octopus with a paper towel.
  5. Transfer ½ of reserved soy/olive oil to a saucepan and over medium heat brown the onions for about 3 minutes. Add garlic for 2 minutes and then throw in and heat up octopus for 90 seconds. Remove from heat.
  6. Transfer heated rice to a bowl. Pour saffron infused water over top rice. Then, add octopus onion mixture, chopped parsley, ½ lemon juiced and 2 t of lemon zest(optional), salt, pepper, smoked paprika to the bowl and mix together.
Total Time: 15 min

Citations and Further Readings:
  • Octopus Nutrition Facts, <>
Photos by Jordan Henline


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