Octopus with Watercress Salsa Verde and Papas Bravas

Chester Gerl

Matt’s in the Market, Seattle, WA

Chester Gerl has access to some of the best seafood in the country at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. He brought some of it with him to create a fish feast at the Beard House that included this Spanish-inspired dish of braised baby octopus.



  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1 clean copper penny
  • 12 four- to five-ounce baby octopi
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Pimenton

Salsa Verde:

  • 1/2 bunch watercress
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley
  • 3 ounces olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 white anchovy
  • Zest of a lemon

Papas Bravas:

  • 3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste


To prepare the octopus, combine the water, red wine, salt, and the penny in a large pot and bring to a boil. Slowly add the octopi one at a time, allowing the tentacles to curl up as they enter the water. Turn down to low heat, and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes, until they are tender. Take the pot off the heat and allow the octopi to cool completely in the braising liquid. Remove and place the in a bowl and add the lemon juice and pimenton. Place in the refrigerator for a few hours to marinate.

To prepare the salsa verde, bring a pot of water to a boil and quickly blanch the watercress and parsley for about 20 seconds. Remove and immediately plunge into ice water. Squeeze the herbs in a towel to dry. Combine watercress, parsley, oil, and garlic in a blender, and blend until smooth and bright green, about 45 seconds. Add the anchovy and lemon zest and blend for another 10 seconds.

To prepare the papas bravas, peel the potatoes. Heat water to a boil in a pot. Add the potatoes and simmer in the water for 20 to 25 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender. Remove the potatoes from the water and cool. Quarter the potatoes and place on a baking sheet. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil and salt. Bake at 350ºF for 15 minutes, until light golden brown.

To serve, heat the marinated octopus in a sauté pan until hot. Distribute the salsa evenly on four plates. Place three potato wedges on each plate. Divide the octopi among the plates and serve.


4 servings