Before you ask me for a recipe, it’s really just boiled octopus and boiled pasta.. mainly. Today I wanted to give you some behind the scenes insights from the shoot of this dish.
It all started with an inspiration from a stunning photo by the amazing Balabotya on Instagram. After seeing her black pasta and octopus post, I thought I had slipped into a dream of purple and black tentacles; like Ursula from Disney’s The Little Mermaid had bestowed a curse upon me. I couldn’t get this fantastic image out of my head until I went on to construct it in my studio.
Shopping: I needed to find an octopus with specifically sized tentacles to fit onto my pasta in the way I had imagined it. That’s not such an easy thing to do because the size of the tentacles will be affected by the cooking. So I took a shot in the dark and bought two frozen octopi (or octopuses… Whichever floats your boat).
They took a few slimy and gross minutes to clean when I got home, but eventually I felt that it was a lot less intimidating than it looks. I prepared a huge pot of boiling tea and threw in the poor creatures. A nice slow poach for 20 to 30 minutes, resulted in a reasonably good texture! The colors were a bit faded for my liking, but that’s why God created Photoshop and Lightroom.
I boiled the black pasta in the same inky tea water from the octopus. Then I make a nice twirl and I put it on a plate. Getting the tentacles to bend to my will was pretty challenging. I wanted to see the suckers, the color, and the beautiful spirals as well. This took a total of three or four tentacles to achieve. A light garnish of fresh basil, briefly seared cherry tomatoes, grated lemon zest and some tomato sauce brought the whole dish to life! Olive oil, grated parmesan and freshly ground black pepper, added a much needed finishing touch.
The styling was lots of fun and I decided to go with a light colored plate but a dark and moody light setup to accentuate the daring nature of the dish.
Here’s a quick behind the scenes video 😉