Arroz De Polvo (Octopus Rice)

Serves 4 – 6 people 
Much of the secret, if it can be called a secret, of Portuguese cooking is the use of simple basic ingredients that get flavor infusions from various techniques. Two of them are utilized in this recipe: the refogado (sweating onions along with other ingredients) and using stocks (in this case an octopus stock).  Fresh octopus can sometimes be very hard to find but with this recipe frozen is best as the freezing process intensifies the flavor and tenderizes the tough octopus meat. Octopus is very tough and must be cooked  60 minutes to tenderize it.  It is worth noting that octopus shrinks while cooking so don’t be alarmed when the recipe calls for 2…they will shrink!  The piri piri (or Portuguese hot sauce) should be used as it brings the dish to life but if you are sensitive to spicy foods then omit it.  You can boil the Octopus ahead of time and refrigerate it for a day or two but beyond that it will shrivel and dry out.
Arroz De Polvo (Octopus Rice)
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Yield: 4


  • 2 frozen octopus about 2 lbs each (thawed)
  • 3 medium to large onions (chopped)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 28 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoons piri piri sauce (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of good Portuguese olive oil
  • 3 cups of rice (I prefer converted or par-boiled rice)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley to garnish (optional)


  • Fill a big pot (that can accommodate two octopus) with water, salt, onion peels (from the onions used in this recipe) and bring to a boil.
  • Bring it to a boil and add the octopus. After the octopus cooks for one hour remove the octopus from the pot but reserve the stock. Let the octopus cool and then chop up into one inch pieces/chunks. Strain the stock to remove the onion peels and save.
  • In another pot add the olive and sauté the onions on low/medium heat until they are a rich golden/caramel color.
  • Add some salt and pepper to this sauté of onions. This should be done over a low to medium flame so as to not burn or char the onion. Burning or charring the onion will impart a bitter taste to the dish. This process is very important and it may take twenty or thirty minutes.
  • After the onions are a rich golden color add the minced garlic and cook for one minute stirring constantly so as to not burn the garlic.
  • Add the canned tomatoes (and piri piri if using) and cook for another five minutes. Always ensure that none of the vegetables burn.
  • After you cook the tomatoes for five minutes add the chopped octopus and cook for another five minutes making sure to stir often.
  • Add the rice and continue to stir until the rice looks coated with the pan juices and flavorings. Add six cups of the reserved octopus stock. If the stock does not yield six cups just top off with tap water until you obtain six cups. Increase the heat on the pot so as to bring everything to a boil.
  • Once it starts to boil lower the heat to a low/medium intensity and stir occasionally until the rice is cooked and the rice is somewhat dry.
  • Taste the rice to see if you need to adjust the salt and pepper.
  • Remove from heat and garnish with chopped parsley.