I have a weakness for octopus, an extremely intelligent creature present in all the salty waters of the globe. Remember the octopus called Paul? He was the star of the 2010 South Africa World Cup and seemed to be able to predict the results of the matches.
I did not make an opinion about it, but I know that I have had a passion for fishing since I was a child and the octopus has always been a sought-after prey on afternoons after school. One of the favourite destinations for catching was Torre Astura, a small fortification near Nettuno that seems to emerge from the sea.
Torre Astura is actually a micro-island and can be reached from the beach via an arched bridge. It was built on the remains of a Roman villa and looking at the clear waters of the sea, one can recognize the remains of the fish ponds that emerge from the sides of the bridge. They tell us how the Roman fish lovers already bred the octopus.
Not far from here, a little further south, Emperor Tiberius raised his morays in his Sperlonga villa. The legend tells that they were fed with the remains of slaves. That was my favourite fishing ground, bream, sea bass, octopus in the caves.
It seems that Torre Astura was a villa of Cicero and probably Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula stayed there. The construction of the Tower dates back to the Middle Ages to defend the port from Saracen raids.
In 1268 the young Corradino of Svevia, nephew of Frederick II, was captured at Torre Astura. With him the story was at a crossroads and could have taken a completely different direction.
It was then a fortification of the Caetani, lords of the Pontine marsh and those of Pope Boniface VIII. In some papers Astura is cited as a station on the Via Appia. Today Torre Astura is a splendid place with a pine forest by the beach, Mediterranean scrub, perfectly preserved because it is located inside a military area.
I also remember some scenes of the 1972 Pinocchio drama, directed by Luigi Comencini and with Nino Manfredi and Gina Lollobrigida.
Once our visits were like, clandestine. But perhaps it is better not to tell too much the bravado of a time that you did not share …
Returning to the recipe, I found this combination interesting, and I must say that after trying it, the result is amazing. Select the best octopus at the market, fishing is a struggle !!
Recipe of the Parmigiana with the Octopus
Take the octopus and clean it by emptying the head and removing the beak. At this point it should be boiled, but first you need to do a treatment to make it softer and here tradition comes to the advantage. With the meat tenderizer it should be “massaged” properly for 5 minutes to break the ribs so that it will be more tender.
Another simpler and more modern option is to keep it 2 days in the freezer. But in this case you can no longer tell friends “I got it fresh, fresh …”.
The first method therefore gives me more satisfaction.
After boiling in the pot remove it from its cooking water only when the water is completely cold. Then the octopus should be cut into thin rings.
At the same time, aubergines are prepared that are put under a slab so they drain and are sweeter. Coat the aubergines with flour and fry them.
In another saucepan, prepare a thin tomato and basil sauce.
At this point we are ready to prepare the parmigiana and proceed to the assembly alternating the ingredients on a regular basis: eggplant, octopus and mozzarella layer all covered with the sauce. I recommend: the mozzarella should be drained first otherwise it makes everything watery.
Bake 20 minutes in the oven at 170 degrees.
The wine to accompany the Parmigiana with the Octopus? Definitely a white with a good acid structure: a Trebbiano.