• Cook time: 1hour25mins
  • Serves: 6
  • Difficulty: Medium


Prep time: 48 hours marinating time

  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) octopus tentacles 
  • 5 garlic cloves, lightly smashed 
  • 1 cup Tibetan barley
  • 1 long red chilli, sliced (seeds removed, if you prefer it mild) 
  • 2 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped marjoram 
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) white wine vinegar 
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) mild extra virgin olive oil 
  • Extra white wine vinegar, to serve


  1. Place a large saucepan of sea water over high heat and bring to the boil. If sea water is unattainable, add 100g of rock salt to 5 litres of water and bring to the boil. 
  2. Blanch the octopus three times in boiling water for about 20 seconds each time. Once complete, turn the heat down, add the octopus and cook on a moderate simmer for 20-25 minutes or until tender.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a pot. Add the barley and return to the boil, then turn to low. Cover tightly and simmer for 55-60 minutes. The barley should be tender but chewy. Drain and let cool. I usually splash a little olive oil through the barley at this stage so it does not stick together.
  5. Once the octopus is cool enough to handle, chop it into 5 cm (2 inch) pieces and put in a non-reactive bowl. Add barley to bowl, then add all the remaining ingredients. Leave to marinate for 48 hours in the refrigerator. Remove the garlic before serving. Best to leave it over night.
  6. Season with more vinegar and freshly ground black pepper. It shouldn’t need any salt. Garnish with some fresh herbs and more extra virgin olive oil.
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