1kg (2.25lb) young octopus
8tbsp olive oil
350g (12oz) small onions or shallots
150ml (0.25pint) red wine
6tbsp red wine vinegar
225g (8oz) canned tomatoes, roughly chopped
2tbsp tomato puree
4 bay leaves
2 tsp dried oregano
black pepper
2tbsp chopped parsley
SERVES 4-6.
First clean the octopus. Pull off the tentacles, remove and discard the intestines and the ink sac, the eyes and the beak. Skin the octopus and wash and scrub it thoroughly to remove any traces of sand. Cut it into 4-5cm (1.5-2inch) pieces and put it into a saucepan over medium heat to release the liquid. Stir the octopus until this liquid has evaporated. Pour on the oil and stir the octopus to seal it on all sides. Add the whole onions and cook them, stirring once or twice, until they colour slightly. Add the wine, the vinegar, tomatoes, tomato puree, bay leaves, oregano and several grindings of pepper. Stir well, cover the pan and simmer very gently for 1-1.25 hrs, checking from time to time that the sauce has not dried out. If it does - and this would only happen if the heat were too high - add a little more wine or water. The octopus is cooked when it can be easily pierced with a skewer.

The sauce should be thick, like a runny paste. If any of the liquid separates, remove the lid from the pan, slightly increase the heat and stir until some of the liquid evaporates and the sauce thickens. Discard the bay leaves and stir in the parsley. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve, if you like, with rice and a salad. A Greek essential is country bread to mop up the sauce.